By Erica Haynes ’17
Grafton Library is displaying three new murals thanks to May Term collaborations between faculty, students, and local incarcerated and undocumented youth.
Each mural contains a unique and distinctly different story behind the journey to its completion. The Train of Dreams or El Tren de los Sueños, the smaller mural hanging in the library was created in May 2014.
In this collaborative project, Mary Baldwin University students worked shoulder-to-shoulder with 15 Central American children, and five local minors residing in a nearby detention facility. The two-paneled mural depicts the journey north and the personal and communal memories of violence and threat experienced by the participating juveniles.
Art historian Marlena Hobson worked closely with the students on this project, and believes the overall experience had a profound impact her and on the students.
“In each of the recent mural projects I have witnessed our students physically and intellectually embrace the experiences of working outside of their comfort zone and doing so with intelligence and grace,” said Hobson.
The largest mural in the library, Second Chances, was created in May. The mural was completed with the help of 20 Mary Baldwin students with collaborative participation from 52 detained youth from Mexico, Central America, and the United States. This diptych was painted in a secure setting, making it possible for youth in restricted detention to be able to participate.
By the end of the project Hobson found it difficult to describe the overall satisfaction she felt with the completion of the murals.
“It is difficult to fully describe the rewarding experience of working with a group of students who, through their commitment and intellect, demonstrate the qualities of compassionate change makers.”
Three teachers from the School of Art Perquin including Spencer Center Artist-in-Residence Claudia Bernardi and MBU faculty members Mary Clay Thomas, and Hobson assisted and directed in the creation of the murals. At 7 p.m. on September 21, Bernardi will speak about the 2016 project (Second Chances) in Francis Auditorium. Since 2006, the international artist has worked in and around the Staunton community with Mary Baldwin students and members of the wider community on mural projects designed to promote healing through art.