Inside Cal Poly Logo

Thinking Outside the Box

This fall, the Cal Poly campus has gotten a little more colorful. The Utility Box Art program, created by Facilities Management and Development, is underway. The project gives campus community members the opportunity to paint murals on utility boxes across campus.

Originally gray, the utility boxes store cables and equipment needed to power certain functions. Six utility boxes have been painted, each with a unique theme proposed by the artist. Each theme reflects either an aspect of the university or the artist’s thoughts on Cal Poly.

Artist Emma LoNardo, a second-year graphic design major, focused on campus positivity for her “SLO Happy” utility box. Her design features a tidal wave, the sun peeking through a mountain and colorful flowers. The box is located where she lived her freshman year, in the red brick dorms. LoNardo knows that transitioning to college can be difficult, so she wanted to create an uplifting design that can bring a smile to the freshman students living in the dorms.

Architectural Engineering Student Katelyn Lowry also participated in the project and painted a utility box near the University Union and Davidson Music Center building, with her theme focusing on monarch butterflies. The Western Monarch Butterfly’s migration path passes through San Luis Obispo, so Lowry wanted to honor the butterflies. Her mural depicts the metamorphosis process of butterflies, which is meant to represent the college experience of growing throughout your education.

Chet Crummett, an architectural engineering major, got to participate in his first mural for the project. His theme looked at activities available at the university and SLO at large. The mural was inspired by Crummett’s photos of him skimboarding, mountain biking, skateboarding and hiking during his first year at Cal Poly.

The Student Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects club formed a team of nine student artists, led by Maya Amyx, to paint a utility box focusing on nature. The mural showcases wind turbines, California poppies, environmental activists and the message “Our Planet, Our Future.” The group hopes to inspire the campus community to engage in environmental activism and fight against environmental issues.

Liberal Arts and Engineering Studies student Jack Kilborn painted their utility box around special memories associated with SLO. Kilborn wanted to remind themselves and the campus community about the beautiful things around the area as well as bring joy to individuals who see the mural. They included horses, Morro Bay, the architecture Design Village in Poly Canyon, sunshine, mountains and fog in their vibrant mural. Kilborn also wrote “you are loved” on top of the utility box as a reminder to people passing by.

The project is still in progress, as more artists are expected to paint utility boxes. Campus community members can apply to paint a mural on a utility box if they have an idea in mind. If you are interested in being part of the project, more information is available at