If you’ve walked into Old Main recently, you may have noticed the large mural across the wall from the Journalism office. The mural is the work of Rayneil Mckinney, a first-year Bachelor of Science student and muralist hailing from the Bahamas, who manages to produce a prolific volume of work while simultaneously juggling his course load and working at the local art supply shop to support his passion.
The mural, called Your TRU Destination, is meant to represent the journey of life and symbolize different aspects of our existence. The brick wall represents the external obstacles we face during our lifetime, presented by the environment in which we live. The female figure has broken through the wall to overcome the barriers facing her. The stairway into space represents the long, often arduous but breathtakingly beautiful journey through life, beyond these obstacles. The cosmic surroundings of the staircase symbolize the unknown aspects of a future beyond the wall and the infinite potential it holds. Shooting out of cosmic space are what the artist has dubbed orbs of potential, extending out to inspire others to break down barriers to reaching their full potential. Witnessing another individual breaking down their barriers to success inspires others to do the same in their lives.
The male figure—named Deeper—containing maze lines was painted on the wall by the female breaking through. This labyrinth-like figure is the counterpart to the challenges represented by the wall itself, representing the internal obstacles we must overcome within ourselves. A multitude of complete pathways, as well as barriers and dead-ends, further illustrate this. Deeper is portrayed breaking down these intrinsic barriers and, through the process, growing into a complete individual. Speaking and communicating his energy, through an orb of potential, manifests itself into substance as the figure to the left. This illustrates the power our words carry and the ability to evoke change in the world on an individual level.
Rayneil is a self-taught painter, who credits YouTube tutorials and sheer perseverance as his primary sources for artistic progression. He was involved in art classes throughout high school but those largely focused on drawing fundamentals and more crafty mediums. It wasn’t until a school break left him with time on his hands that he started dedicating entire days to completing intricate graphite drawings and discovered his latent artistic talent.
Although the Old Main mural is his most involved to date—with creative direction entirely within his scope—he’s been an up-and-comer in the mural scene for some time, since outfitting the frontage of a local boxing club back home in the Bahamas. He describes his artistic style as “Inspirational semi-realism with a heavy dose of symbolism,” and draws his subject matter from the natural environment, putting his own twist on reality to create inspirational messaging.
Utilizing everything from rollers and brushes, to stencils and spray cans, his work is a bit of old-school meets new. He cites two artists that particularly influenced his work: the geometric, graffiti-oriented Mikael Brandup, and the famous landscape painter and television personality Bob Ross. It’s this concept of inspiration that inspired Mckinney to launch a new project, called Project Cover the Walls.
“The best gift you can give another person,” says Rayneil, “is the ability to believe in yourself, that anything is possible.”
He wants his work to inspire the next generation of students to break down their own barriers to success, and hopes that sharing his story of overcoming obstacles will inspire others to embrace their passion. He feels fortunate to be studying in Kamloops on an academic scholarship, and has his own stories about prioritizing art supplies over basic human needs that will leave you with no doubt that he’s paid his dues.
Project Cover the Walls is still in its infancy, but Mckinney envisions visiting various communities where he can involve local youth and inspire them to embrace their own creativity.
Rayneil’s own ambitions extend beyond the paint brush. He intends to transfer into a Naval Architecture program after completing his science requirements at TRU. “My father is a fisherman and I spent my childhood around boats and the marina. I always wanted to work in a marine environment with some sort of engineering focus, and Naval Architecture pairs those well with the creative side.”
Check out Your TRU Destination in Old Main, across the hall from the Journalism office, and watch for more from Rayneil on social media and the walls near you.
Rayneil explains the meaning behind his inspirational mural, and the adversity he’s overcome in his artistic pursuits. Listen