By Grace Kilgore – [email protected]
One of the Link buses is getting a new paint job.
CSB/SJU students in a Latino/Latin American Studies course came up with the idea to put a mural on the outside of the Link.
The class that came up with the idea, led by Professor Bruce Campbell, chooses a different cultural theme to explore every term, and numerous events are put on throughout the semester that correlate to the particular theme.
This semester, the theme for the course was “cultural citizenship,” or the idea that every citizen has the right to participate in one’s culture and exercise this right freely.
“We normally think of citizenship in political terms, like the right to vote and access to education, but cultural citizenship is the idea of the right to participate as a cultural citizen, a right to express one’s culture,” CSB senior and student in the class, Faith Kersey-Bronec, said. “It is a demand for acceptance and for the space to express one’s cultural identity.”
Instead of the class meeting regularly, students put on three events to actively exercise and explore cultural citizenship. Out of the three events over the
semester, the final event was to create a mural that responded to the posed question: “what kind of community do we want, and how do we get it?”
“The class met multiple times at the beginning of the semester to discuss what cultural citizenship means, what a healthy community looks like and how one might build the ideal community,” CSB senior and student in the class, Lindsay Sommer said. “Throughout these conversations, we began to turn our ideas into visual language that would then be used to design the mural.”
Twenty students worked closely with Gustavo Lira, a muralist based out of the Twin Cities that has knowledge and background in Mexican mural tradition. In the beginning of the process, the students voiced their opinions about what kind of community they wished to convey and what images and language they wanted to see in the design.
About a month after these initial conversations, Lira designed and executed the mural on a painted canvas, which was then to be transported between both the CSB and SJU campuses and put on display for all students to see.
However, the difficulties of having a satisfactory public space for the mural to be displayed made the class rethink their initial plan. After more conversation, the idea of displaying the mural on a Link bus proved to be a better option. Not only would the mural be seen by both campuses, but it would be a public space to honor such a deserving and powerful cultural image. The students approached the administration about the idea. The project was put in motion with the help of CSB President Mary Hinton, Brandyn Woodard from Intercultural and International Student Services and CSB/SJU Director of Operations Brad Sinn.
One mural was not the stopping point for the students of the Latino/Latin American Studies course. They went around to over 20 clubs on campus, asking for input on the mural and encouraging conversations about cultural citizenship and community. These ideas were the framework for a second mural, which is to be put on the other side of the same Link bus that the first mural is going on.
“In the process of making another mural, we wanted to engage to community to reflect the community,” Kersey-Bronec said.
Students are hopeful about continuing the mural project.
“We hope to create a course within the art department curriculum with a focus on public art, and have students work throughout the year to design a mural with community engagement,” Sommer said. “The dream would be for all the buses to be muraled, one each year.”
“Overall, this project seeks to engage our community in conversation,” Kersey-Bronec said. “This project really stems from an expression of student agency and seeks to reclaim a space.”
The two designed murals will be digitalized, printed on vinyl wrap surfacing and applied to the Link bus in the beginning of the fall semester next school year.
Feature photo: JULIA ECKART • [email protected]