Maryland today | Finding ‘unity’, healing in art
The mural shows the power of art to help connect and transform communities, said musicology professor Patrick Warfield, director of the campus-wide Arts for All initiative that aims to build collaborations between arts, technology and social justice.
“Created in partnership, the very act of making it allowed us to mourn, to bond, to question and to strengthen ourselves,” he said. who will come after, remember, honor and resolve to build a common future.”
The process that led to the creation of the mural began in the summer of 2017 when shock and grief were still fresh and represented a shared desire for unity and justice on both campuses.
“We started thinking about how, as a community, we can support each other,” said Margaret Walker, clinical associate professor of arts education at UMD. “It turned into the unification of the two campuses and brought us together.”
But physically bringing UMD and Bowie State students together hasn’t been easy. After the murder, students at the historically black university faced feelings of unease and a lack of confidence, said Gina Lewis, a Bowie State associate art professor who helped lead the project.
“BSU students were concerned about what UMD students thought of them and whether UMD students hated them as well,” Lewis said. “Students needed to be around each other to realize that there was a lot of pain on both campuses.”
They began to think of ways to use art to express mixed emotions while honoring Collins. The idea for a community mural came about after conversations with student activists on both campuses, and sketches began in the art studio with help from BSU art majors and education majors. arts at UMD.
” It was hard. As a student, you never get the opportunity to work on a community project,” said Lisa Thach ’20, a UMD graduate who participated in the project. “But seeing the mural’s message on both campuses and having peace with each other shows that we’re all human and we all have the same struggles.”
About 250 community members worked on the mural, which debuted on September 15, 2017, at the annual NextNOW festival hosted by UMD’s Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. Jennifer White-Johnson, a digital media arts professor at BSU, and her photojournalism class captured this creative process on film and video.
“There was a gathering at the festival to bring it to life, and it wasn’t just the painting of it,” said Erica Bondarev Rapach, acting executive director of The Clarice. “It was about the process of connecting students to create it.”
The mural has since been displayed on the UMD and BSU campuses, the Lowe House office building in Annapolis, and at various events around the state. The original now hangs in The Clarice, above an archway leading to the building’s dance wing. A digitized image of the mural will be printed on metal plates for the permanent exhibit at Collins Plaza, located between the Annapolis and Montgomery halls near where Collins was killed.
The impact of its creation continues to resonate on both campuses.
“I enjoyed how (students) rose to the challenge of coming together at a difficult time and collaborating to create a beautiful experience that produced a beautiful artifact and work of art out of a very painful and ugly,” Lewis said.