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Back to Blog July 11, 2023

Tyler Alum Tim McFarlane (BFA '94) Aims for the Monumental in His Work

Author: Wanda Motley Odom

As part of his artistic journey, Tyler alum Tim McFarlane (BFA '94) has in recent years veered toward the monumental.

Putting his typical works on canvas or panel aside, McFarlane has preferred work at the large scale afforded him by murals and other wall-based installations -- applying acrylic paint, drawings and sculptural forms complete with silver and frosted Mylar, pushpins, nails, tape to walls and other surfaces.

“I like the freedom of working at a large scale. More things out of your control and you are forced to work in different way. The work is very intuitive. I don’t usually plan much in the studio; I don’t sketch or draw before starting a painting,” said McFarlane, who in June was a visiting artist at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art for its low-residency MFA program. He had a day of critiques with the graduate students and and later, gave a talk sharing how his own work has changed over the last five to six years.

Bound Together mural at 10th and Callowhill Streets, Ridge Avenue; photo by Barry Halkin

Mural at Coscia Moos Architects,123 South Broad Street, Suite 220, Philadelphia

This journey began with a commission for a ceiling installation at Philadelphia International Airport's Terminal A-East, entitled I Wrote Some Poems That You Could Read (2018). A collection of large squares with geometric patterns, squiggles amid fields and blotches of vibrant colors float overhead of moving walkways in the light-drenched space.

McFarlane executed his first mural, titled Bound Together, in 2021 at the confluence of 10th and Callowhill Streets and Ridge Avenue through Philadelphia’s renowned Mural Arts Program. The mural, conceived in collaboration with the community development corporation that serves Chinatown, highlights the Asian community and gives a nod to the multitudes of people who use that intersection every day. 

McFarlane created three large, abstract panels with red glyphs outlined in gold and yellow, which appears to be multilayered. Greens, blues, oranges and lines of teal cut through the design and represent the intersection of the streets.

Ceiling installation at Philadelphia International Airport

His next mural, completed in winter 2021, is in the new office space of Coscia Moos Architects in the Wells Fargo building on Broad Streets between Walnut and Samson Streets.

McFarlane said in that work, which soars from 12 to 27 feet high, he is “bringing something of the outdoors indoors” and depicting the antithesis of “the classical grid of the neoclassical marble-and-granite architectural design of the banking headquarters. “Forms go off on diagonals,” he said.

McFarlane will have his sixth solo show at Philadelphia’s Bridgette Mayer Gallery in spring 2024.

Top: McFarlane in front of his work; all images courtesy of artist.