Call for Proposals: Institute of Marine Sciences Mural

The following post can be found in PDF format here: RFP – IMS Mural


Artist Request for Proposal (RFP)

Institute of Marine Sciences, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

A Public Art Mural Project at 3431 Arendell Street, Morehead City, NC 28557


Introduction to the Project

IMS is kicking off a Mural Project, a nine month-long endeavor to take advantage of our building’s premium location on Hwy. 70/Arendell Street, where 26,000 cars per day transit.

UNC-CH IMS is seeking proposals from artists with experience in arts for the design and execution of a large mural that honors the unique qualities and purpose of Carolina’s marine lab and reinforces our mission statement.

The objective of this project is to create a piece of art that celebrates the many facets and advancements of the research done by UNC Institute of Marine Sciences, celebrating its 75th year of marine science research and service to the State of North Carolina.  The mural should reflect the wonders of the local coastal ecosystem and the compelling work researchers (faculty, students, and staff technicians) do at Carolina’s marine lab.

The strategic priority at UNC IMS is marine-science research conducted to solve local and global challenges in the following areas: water quality, fisheries, coastal ecosystems, and coastal-hazards resilience.  Not each of the four priority areas are required to be represented, but the ideal design will incorporate several if not all.  Because this artwork is intended to reflect the work of UNC IMS, a nod to UNC itself is also something that would be encouraged.

Artists submitting proposals should consider how they might engage with faculty, students, and staff who work at UNC IMS either in the installation process or in related programming as regard to the artwork. The selected artist will also have an opportunity to interview a group of faculty, students, and staff to inform their final piece.

The two mural walls (connected at a corner) of the IMS’ building face north and east.  The façade of the building is brick and there is a contrasting brick band marking each of the stories of the building.  A portion of one wall is three stories high.

Our goals for this mural project are:

  • To raise awareness of the UNC-CH marine lab and the important work we do here
  • To make the connection in people’s minds that we are an extended campus of the UNC-CH main campus
  • To convey our commitment to the community and the marine environment via the compelling research that we conduct in four strategic areas: water quality, fisheries, coastal hazards resilience, and coastal ecosystems.
  • To become a “welcome sign” or create a “sense of arrival” to people as they enter Morehead City from the east – “We’re here! There’s the marine lab mural!”

We want to set our sights on the future of the Institute as a leader in the marine science research and education sectors.  The mural should encourage a vision forward with optimism, hope, and progress.

About IMS

The Institute of Marine Sciences (IMS) is an off-campus research, education, and service unit of UNC-CH that, together with the on-campus Department of Marine Sciences, forms the Marine Sciences Program.

Since 1894 UNC-CH has been bringing students to Carteret County to take advantage of the unique nature of the North Carolina coastal environment. Formal laboratory space was acquired in Morehead City in 1947, and today boasts a thriving academic and research community.

The Institute’s mission is to advance, teach, and share knowledge of the coastal marine environment for the benefit of the citizens of North Carolina and beyond.  To learn more about us, please visit our website:


About Arts Everywhere

Arts Everywhere is a comprehensive initiative at UNC-CH to make the arts a fundamental part of University of North Carolina culture and daily campus life. Collaborating with diverse departments, units, and organizations, they strive to embed creative expression, live arts experiences, and arts learning into the Carolina experience.


Mural Site Location and Specification

The UNC-CH Institute of Marine Sciences (IMS) will commission a professional artist to paint a large-scale narrative mural that encompasses the IMS mission.  The region is replete with a variety of marine natural resources and Morehead City is quickly becoming known for its unique collection of murals in the Downtown area.    We are seeking proposals that convey the dynamic energy of the marine environment in our region and that will send the message that IMS welcomes and engages locals and visitors to the Carteret County area.  Proposals should convey a clear sense of place.  The chosen wall/walls are located at 3431 Arendell Street, they face west and north, with one side highly visible and one side partially obscured by local (and protected) Live Oak trees.  IMS is open to the footprint of the final mural, incorporating use of any or all the available surface areas of the walls or a portion of the surface areas.  Because IMS is located just after Arendell Street divides from a non-median road into a median-featuring road, we anticipate that the mural could likely become the unofficial “entrance” into Morehead City.  The mural will be visible from pedestrian and car traffic, travelling both east and west on Arendell Street.  The northern facing wall of 3431 Arendell Street is comprised of two sections as follows and the wall surface is brick.  Click here to review a PDF document that includes better photos as well as actual measurements of the surface areas.

Picture of side of IMS building
Northern-facing wall sections – two different rooflines. 11’ wide x 40’ tall


front of IMS building
Eastern-facing wall section. Three stories. The vertical section to the left is 23’ x 40. And horizontal panel to the right is 30’ x 32’.


Click here to see a video of the building “canvas.”


This call is open to all US-based artists.  Of course, artists from North Carolina are strongly encouraged to apply as well as UNC-Chapel Hill alumni and current students. Candidates must be professional artists, designers, or fabricators or partnered with professional artists, designers, or fabricators; eligible to work in the United States; and age 18 and older. The artist must be available to oversee the installation of the mural.

Candidates must be professional artists, designers, or fabricators or partnered with professional artists, designers, or fabricators; eligible to work in the United States; and age 18 and older. The artist must be available to oversee the installation of the mural.

Proposal Requirements

The following is required for consideration as a completed proposal:

  1. Contact information: Name, address, telephone number, email address
  2. Resume/CV for lead artist(s)
  3. Written narrative describing your artistic vision and proposal (No longer than 2 single-spaced pages)
  1. Sketches to explain your vision (The desire is to use at least two of the three panels (the two tall vertical walls) but the third panel (horizontal) may be incorporated dependent on budget. Also, sketches/concepts may or may not incorporate the existing logo on the westward facing vertical wall.)
  2. Proposed installation timeline
  3. Estimated budget
  4. Optional additional support materials (i.e. news article on past work). Also, should the artist envision incorporating community or student engagement in the design/installation process, we would welcome those ideas/suggestions as our desire is to use the mural process for public engagement to the extent possible.
  5. Examples of past work, either attached as a PDF or with a shared web address to a digital portfolio (Maximum of 5)
  1. References (Minimum of 2)



The deadline has been extended and all proposals must be submitted electronically by Friday, January 14, 2022 at 5:00 PM Eastern. 

Materials must be submitted via email to the attention of Libby O’Malley, IMS Mural Project Manager, as a PDF.  A confirmation email will be sent to all applicants.  If you do not receive a confirmation email within 24 hours of the deadline, please contact Libby O’Malley via email at or by phone at (252) 726-6841.



Recognizing that we are flexible in consideration of the size/scope of the façade treatment area (given that there are three possible panels that could be used), it follows that the budget may vary widely.  A total of $16,000 has been identified for the purposes of this project.  Artist will be responsible for their own travel costs, materials (including scaffolding/lifts), and personal liability insurance.  UNC IMS staff will collaborate with the artist to attempt to offset costs by seeking in-kind support (materials, scaffolding, etc.) The Institute will be responsible for the treatment of the surface prior to installation and for applying a UV sealant and anti-graffiti coating.

We ask that proposals consider a broad use of the three panels available while considering the density of the paint and budget.

Each semi-finalist will be paid a $250 stipend for his/her proposal. IMS is relying on the generosity of our community and partners to aid in the creation of this mural. As a non-profit organization, we are applying for several grants between the posting of this RFP and May 2022.  The selected artist may be asked for involvement in the grant application process.

Selection Process

A 15-person, diverse, representative committee has been established and will review all completed proposals. Committee members include facility managers, local art council representatives, faculty and students, and other state/local UNC Chapel Hill community members.

We will select up to three semifinalists to interview. We will select one finalist for the project.

The following will be considered in the selection process:

  • Artist met the requirements outlined in the RFP; the proposal was submitted by the deadline.
  • Attention to the mission of the project.
  • Evidence of ability to create large-scale, distinctive work.
  • Demonstrated ability to maintain project timelines and budgets.
  • Originality and creativity.

Project Timeline (subject to change)

  • December 1, 2021 – Announcement and distribution of RFP
  • January 10, 2022 – Deadline for receipt of proposals
  • February 1, 2021 –  All submissions reviewed and semifinalists selected
  • February 15, 2022 – Interviews with semifinalists
  • March 1, 2022 –  Artist selected and contract completed
  • March 15, 2022 – Art design finalized and approved
  • April 1, 2022 – Work begins
  • June 15, 2022 – Work finalized



The artist will retain ownership of any ideas submitted for consideration until a final selection has been made and a contract will be signed between UNC-CH Institute of Marine Sciences and the selected artist. At that time, UNC-CH IMS will obtain 100% ownership of artwork produced, in whatever stage of completion, and the artwork shall become the property of UNC-CH IMS as a work made for hire as defined by the copyright laws of the United States. UNC-CH IMS shall be the sole and exclusive owner and copyright proprietor of all rights and title in and to the results and proceeds of artist’s services hereunder. In addition, artist will represent being the sole author of the Work and that all services are original by artist and not copied in whole or in part.

Category:Artist Call