By Sean Callahan
As students and faculty venture in and out of the Carrey Center, they may notice a little something stuck on the window of the campus store. That would be the Uniting All People (UAP) Club’s mural, titled “Peace and Unity.”
According to Keila Lobos-Hernandez, a senior English major and UAP Club member, several SVC faculty and staff members wanted to find a way to include students in an upcoming art exhibit called The Billboard Project. The staff who contacted the UAP Club include Kelly King, director of service learning and outreach; Andrew Julo, director and curator of the Verostko Center for the Arts; and Lauren Churilla, curator of the McCarl Coverlet Gallery.
The Billboard Project exhibit is a partnership between the Westmoreland Diversity Coalition (WDC), the Westmoreland Museum of American Art, and Saint Vincent College.
Lobos-Hernandez said that the “Peace and Unity” mural was the UAP Club’s way of adding a student perspective to the exhibit’s theme of “Making Our Differences our Strengths.”
With the permission of Fr. Anthony Grossi, O.S.B., manager of the bookstore, the UAP Club was able to paint on the bookstore windows. Lobos-Hernandez and six other UAP Club members helped to complete the mural on Feb. 25 and 26.
The result is a painting of a large brown hand in the center, surrounded closely by many green handprints. To the right of the handprints is a painting of Bayard Rustin, activist and friend of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Taped below is a paper that details his humanitarian missions and leadership in social movements, including civil rights, socialism, nonviolence and gay rights. To the left is a painting of Ella Josephine Baker, a “behind-the-scenes organizer” of the civil rights movement, as the paper below her image reads. It also lists her numerous interactions with notable civil rights leaders, as well as her many lifelong accomplishments.
Lobos-Hernandez explained that each artistic aspect of the mural was purposeful.
“The tree of hands represents the unification of the student body at Saint Vincent. Each hand on the tree is from a different student,” she said. “We wanted to show that we all can come together, despite our differences. We can embrace one another and be a strong community.”
As for Rustin and Baker, Lobos-Hernandez said that the UAP Club wanted to spotlight lesser-known Civil Rights activists.
“They were chosen because of their strong work ethic and presence in coordinating Civil Rights events. Their work has shown us that we all have a voice and that we can incite change wherever we are,” Lobos-Hernandez said.