Thomas Evans (aka Detour) sits next to Chancellor Michelle Marks

Painting Our People and Our Purpose on Campus

March 29, 2022

The University of Colorado Denver is a special place. I knew that even before I first arrived on campus in July 2020. And once I had the opportunity to experience the vibrancy of this university located in the heart of downtown Denver with the Rocky Mountains as our backdrop, I saw how the passion, grit, and commitment of our Lynx community is not only reflected in this special place, but also continues to shape it.

Our people and their incredible stories define CU Denver and contribute to the rich diversity that distinguishes our city and state. Together, we are working to integrate our unique location with our bold ambition to reimagine CU Denver’s future as we make education work for all. We strive to create a new model of higher education that works for all learners, ensuring that a relevant, high-quality education is available to the talented many—not only the privileged few. It’s a charge that I believe only CU Denver can undertake because of the many qualities that distinguish our public urban research university and the community that drives us. That’s why today, I am so excited proud to share that we are literally painting the picture of this future here on our campus, through the stories of our people. 

In a partnership with international muralist and two-time CU Denver alum, Thomas Evans AKA Detour, we have commissioned two murals and three large canvas pieces to celebrate our campus and community. Featuring the likenesses of seven of our graduates, the murals are being painted on the Learning Commons and Student Commons, while the canvas pieces will be on display within CU Denver buildings. 

These works of art represent the immense talent and graduate characteristics of one of our proud alums, they situate our campus within the thriving Denver art scene, and they symbolize our people’s presence in communities across Colorado. With them, we are leveraging our powerful alumni stories into a visual invitation to our broader alumni community to proudly identify with CU Denver. From filmmakers to medical professionals, educators to artists, and politicians to city planners—our alumni make an impact in fields that are as diverse as they are. And they all got their start at CU Denver, a catalyst to change the world. 

I am so inspired by this community and this special place. And I am incredibly grateful for our collaboration with Detour to create this transformative art installation on our campus. To learn more about this project, you can visit You can also read the stories of our featured alumni throughout the month of April in CU Denver News.

I’ve said before that CU Denver can no longer be a best kept secret and we have to loudly proclaim what makes us special: our people, our place, and our purpose. So we are making that bold statement, as we take these bold steps forward to make education work for all. And we are doing it in a very Denver way—not because we are a part of Denver, but because Denver is a part of who we all are.

Michelle Marks