By Gabrielle Smallwood
The Multicultural Center provides activities and services focusing on the exploration of cultural and racial identity, awareness and social exchange. The center assists with personal and academic growth as well as development of leadership skills. It also serves as a haven on campus, a home away from home for many students.
Brittany Brown, a student worker at the MCC, presented the idea of a collaborative mural to be added to the center. Brown found inspiration after her newfound interest in community art. Along with the director of the center, Rhonda Branford, she began by opening art submissions to the KU family. Art student Amarin MacKenzie produced beautiful artwork creating a bit of life in the mural.
Brown believes Mackenzie’s pearl necklace design in the mural strung together various themes of equality. It was perfect for the hallway of the Multicultural Center. “My main goal through all of this was to bring together Kutztown to celebrate diversity and inclusion in our community, which I believe we did, even if only in a small way,” said Brown.
Process toward the mural began in September when local artist Juan Carlos Ruiz. Jr. visited KU twice a week to supervise and assist the participants that worked on the project. The first mural panel incorporates multiracial hands formed around the Earth, which represents unity.
The second features hearts to display love and equality, regardless of sexual orientation, with the final illustrating world peace with religious symbols. Each panel is connected by a pearl necklace.
“Every member of the MCC team participated and was joined by art students, residence life students, guests of students and members of various organizations to create this Inclusion Wall,” said Branford. “We want to thank all of those who participated, with a special thank you to Amarin MacKenzie, her original piece inspired the mural, Alex Spangler who recreated the “heart” panel, and our visiting local artist, Juan Carlos Ruiz, Jr. who designed the beautiful backdrop for the piece and presented and supervised the project.”
The mural was completed within the next month and bound to the Multicultural Center’s wall on October 30. If you would like to see the mural, The Multicultural Center is located on South Campus along the DMZ, behind Rothermel Hall.
“We invite everyone in the community to come in and view the Diversity & Inclusion Wall. We hope it inspires our community to not just talk about diversity and inclusion, but to practice it in our daily lives,” said Branford.