Brazos Spring Mural

Painted by Emma Stark in 1992-1993 and measuring 40 feet wide by 11 feet tall, Brazos Spring depicts life as it might have looked in the Brazos Valley 12,500 years ago. Over 50 species of animals are represented in the mural, all of which are known to have lived in the Brazos Valley during the Ice Age.

Detailed Information about the Mural

Brazos Spring is an acrylic on canvas mural 40 feet long by 11 feet high depicting a late Spring Pleistocene afternoon in the Brazos Valley approximately 12,500 years ago. Springtime weather in the Brazos Valley was a few degrees cooler then, but weather only a few hundred miles to the north would have been decidedly colder, dominated by a continental glacier which extended from the Arctic Circle southward to southern Wisconsin.

Over 50 species of animals are depicted in the mural, all of which are known to have lived at that time in the Brazos Valley and Central Texas. The Pleistocene epoch is recognized as the time when the last of the great mammals lived in North America: the saber-toothed cats, mastodons, mammoths, camels, horses, dire wolves, and short-faced bears, which were much larger than the bears of today. It was also a time when most of the species we see today first appeared: the modern white-tailed deer, raccoons, fox squirrels, great blue herons, and bald eagles to name just a few. Humans were also living in the Americas 12,500 years ago and are depicted in the mural.

While Emma Stark, under our direction, has taken artistic liscense to depict so many different animals within the space encompassed by the mural, the Pleistocene landscape was indeed richer in numbers of species than today. The more productive environment in the Gulf Coast region was created by the greater resources of water and lessening of summer heat.

Emma Stark received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Houston and trained in classical oil techniques under the master Italian artist Guido Fulignot. Her strength as an artist lies in her ability to imbue paintings with life's vibrancy. When you see the bison rolling in the dust, you can smell the dust and share the bison's relief from the mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks that have pestered him throughout the day. That feeling for the natural world was honed by Emma during her safaris to Africa, India, and her extensive travels throughout the Americas.

Consulting scientists on this project were:
Dr. Keith Arnold, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Science, Texas A&M
Dr. J.R. Giardino, Department of Geography, Texas A&M
Dr. John Spang, Department of Geology, Texas A&M
Dr. D. Gentry Steele, Department of Anthropology, Texas A&M
Dr. Ronald M. Young, Former Direotor, Brazos Valley Museum of Natural History

Funded by the Federal Institute of Museum Services, the Texas Commission on the Arts, and the Arts Council of Brazos Valley.