Art

Mural digs into issues of diversity

Student-driven project gives UNM-Taos artists some creative fire to work with

By Tempo staff
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 8/7/19

A campus-wide project to create a large-scale mural that represents “the cultural diversity of the student population” at the University of New Mexico-Taos is soon to launch.

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Art

Mural digs into issues of diversity

Student-driven project gives UNM-Taos artists some creative fire to work with

Posted

A campus-wide project to create a large-scale mural that represents “the cultural diversity of the student population” at the University of New Mexico-Taos is soon to launch.

UNM-Taos students will create the imagery in collaboration with two well-respected professional artists. They are local and nationally recognized artist Amy Córdova and international muralist Jenny Roesel Ustick.

“The creation of this mural empowers underrepresented students to have a voice in the visual depiction of their culture in a way that is not only meaningful and directly connected to their personal narrative, but is represented on a large-scale and highly visible way in the institution where they are being educated,” a press release states.

The mural will be located at Klauer Campus, on the south wall of the art department in Fred Peralta Hall. The project will launch Aug. 19 and is scheduled to be completed by mid-October.

The mural project is an outcome of a federal Title V: Hispanic Servin     g Institution cooperative grant awarded to UNM-Taos, New Mexico Highlands University, and Adams State University in 2014.

This grant program, along with UNIDOS: Building Pathway to Access and Opportunity for the Upper Río Grande Region, has supported the ongoing goal of “building greater capacity for diversity, equity and inclusion in higher education.” In other words, it will help students to feel more supported and included in the university. 

Over the five years of the grant, UNIDOS (Spanish for “united”) supported groups of faculty and staff from each of the partner institutions to attend a weeklong Equity Leadership Institute, where participants learned skills “to achieve inclusive excellence, cultural responsiveness and build leadership for equity.”

This professional development opportunity looked at finding barriers which might prevent the teaching and learning of students from underrepresented groups. Each year’s members were encouraged to bring back ideas for projects, then were offered Equity Engagement Grants to put them to work.

The mural project came from the 2018 group from UNM-Taos who opted to pool their individual EEG funds and collaborate on this campus-wide project, a press release states.

Córdova is planning to work directly with students to develop the image for the mural using their voice and her aesthetic viewpoint.

She is a nationally recognized children’s’ book illustrator and acclaimed arts educator and lecturer. Córdova has made numerous keynote speeches as well as art with thousands of children and adults throughout the United States. A descendant of a family with deep roots in Northern New Mexico, Córdova has said she holds great reverence for New Mexico’s landscape, history, cultures and traditions. “Brilliant color, dreams, the natural world and the wisdom of children contribute to Córdova’s inspirational, artistic vision,” the press release continues.

Jenny Roesel Ustick is from the School of Art, College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning at the University of Cincinnati. She manages large-scale public murals with 11 walls in Cincinnati and Nnorthern Kentucky. She has also worked on projects in Miami Beach, Florida, the Villa Crespo neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Granati, Italy.

“The UNM-Taos Art Department provides an atmosphere of immense creativity. Committed students acquire practical techniques and engage in critical discourse, which develops into an understanding of the importance of diversity and richness of the arts in Northern New Mexico and around the world. The department offers an associate of fine arts degree, as well as internship opportunities,” the release concludes.

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