Soon Ee Ngoh
Mississippi State Professor of Art Soon Ee Ngoh uses her creative passion to transform empty walls in Harned Hall into a showcase for MSU researchers’ work.
“We are not only transforming the spaces, but also providing art students with the opportunity to collaborate with scientists,” said Ngoh, who champions murals on campus. “Each mural in Harned is not just a random mural. On every single floor, the mural highlights the varied research of faculty members residing on that floor.”
Ngoh, a native of Malaysia, attended Smith College in Massachusetts, obtaining her undergraduate degree in studio art. She went on to attend the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, where she acquired her Master of Fine Arts in printmaking. An MSU faculty member since 1998, she currently teaches all levels of drawing classes.
This campus mural process first began in 2015, with retired W.L. Giles Distinguished Professor Brent Funderburk, who mentored art students in the creation of murals—one in the Longest Student Health Center, one in the Colvard Student Union Dawg House and another in the Dunn-Seiler Geology Museum in Hilbun Hall. Inspired by Funderburk and the students’ art, Ngoh took it upon herself to assume Funderburk’s role upon his retirement, ensuring that murals would continue to be created on campus.
Collaborating with Brian Counterman, a former biological sciences faculty member, and Angus Dawe, biological sciences department head, Ngoh was introduced to Harned Hall, and now each floor displays a unique and exciting mural.
“I have been working with Angus every year to do more murals, and he has been incredibly supportive in allowing the art students to use the building as their canvas,” said Ngoh. “I handpick the students for each mural. These students are talented and thoughtful artists with a strong work ethic. I know they will transform the walls into works that are dynamic and inspiring.”
Ngoh currently has two students continuing a mural in the basement of Harned Hall, which houses the herbarium of about 37,500 preserved plants. The mural will feature a rich array of accurately depicted plants and flowers native to Mississippi. Another pair of students are working in the Hill Agriculture Building to create a mural highlighting agriculture crop diversity in Mississippi and the diseases that afflict them.
“Like the numerous murals that we see in Starkville, some of which were painted by our art students and alumni, my goal is to try and create as many murals as possible throughout campus. How sweet would that be?”
By Rileigh Campbell on February 2, 2024