When you drive over the Quinnipiac River on Interstate 95 in New Haven these days, chances are you’ll notice a giant dinosaur painting on an oil tank at the entrance to the harbor. That painting is the work of Bayla Arietta ’12, who earned a BFA in illustration and a minor in art history from the University of Hartford’s Hartford Art School (HAS). New Haven’s Peabody Museum of Natural History recently commissioned her to paint a Deinonychus dinosaur, or what Jurassic Park audiences would know as a “Velociraptor.”
Arietta says the painting has a lot of “cool coincidences.” This is not the first time a dinosaur painting with an HAS connection has appeared on a New Haven Harbor oil tank. The world-famous “Age of Reptiles” painting, created by the late HAS faculty member Rudolph Zallinger, was featured on a 90,000-barrel oil tank and visible from Interstate 95 for 17 years before it was removed in 2014.
Zallinger taught at HAS for more than 20 years and his iconic “Age of Reptiles” fresco has been featured in countless publications and textbooks around the world. The 110-by-16 foot painting (which Zallinger began in 1943 and completed in 1947) remains in the Peabody’s Great Hall and continues to captivate visitors with its overview of a prehistoric world spanning 300 million years.
This year, on a bright, windy September day Arietta watched as a gigantic graphic of her painting was mounted on the tank, where it is expected to remain for the next 20 years. She says officials at the museum wanted the painting to show what the Deinonychus dinosaur truly looked like—including its feathers—a characteristic that’s typically not depicted on the big screen or in drawings. “It was really fun to see how the graphic was installed on the tank surface,” she says. “Obviously I never saw my artwork blown up that large before.”
Now that the dinosaur painting is complete, the Peabody has commissioned Arietta for a long-term project—illustrations for its popular Discovery room which houses modern day living creatures like poison dart frogs, snakes, hissing cockroaches, and ants, just to name a few. You can view Arietta’s scientific illustrations and other work at baylaart.com.