50th Anniversary mural symbolizes USC Upstate’s tremendous growth


The commemorative mural’s progress can be seen by drivers passing by on a busy downtown street.
Photo by Lucy McElroy

By Lucy McElroy

A mural representative of USC Upstate’s humble beginnings, growth, and success is being painted proudly across Gallery East’s wall in downtown Spartanburg to celebrate the university’s 50th anniversary.

Upstate commissioned the project and enlisted alumnus Russell Bannan’s media company, Bannan Blasko LLC to create a public artwork that captures the university’s spirit.

“I cannot be more excited to have the University of South Carolina Upstate mural featured in downtown Spartanburg,” Chancellor Brendan Kelly stated in a University story. “This amazing artwork encapsulates the history of USC Upstate, its strong reputation of serving as a critical force in fulfilling regional and state workforce needs, and its brilliant future.”

The mural reads left to right, with historical representations first, followed by images that symbolize the development into a multi-campus university. This visual progression creates an active viewing experience and serves as a reminder of 50 years of growth.


This photo is from June 12 – artists are making progress daily.

Peaches, mountains, and trees geographically symbolize the university in the painting. The Spartanburg campus was once a peach orchard and soybean farm until the land was acquired in 1967 by the Spartanburg County Commission for Higher Education. The Blue Ridge Mountains are often visible from campus, providing a suitable backdrop to Upstate’s variety of trees and well-maintained landscape.

The image of a nurse’s cap is a reminder of USC Upstate’s foundation – a new chapter of Spartanburg’s nursing programs that opened after Spartanburg General Hospital closed its nursing education program.

“I am eternally grateful to Jason Hiltabiddle for providing such a prominent location for USC Upstate to share its remarkable story,” Kelly stated. “This is just the beginning of how USC Upstate intends to approach deliberate storytelling and branding.”

The mural can be seen at 512 East Main Street and a full list of symbols contained in the mural can be found here. Live video of the mural’s progress is broadcasted here.


Lucy McElroy is the Editor of The Carolinian. Email Lucy with story ideas, information, staff inquiries and advertising.