EAGLE ROCK — Pola Lopez’ color scheme is vibrant and almost jarring in a narrow, second story hallway at the Occidental College library. Orange, violet and green pop from the mural Lopez was commissioned to create by a group of students looking to promote diversity in the student body.
“Usually what is spoken of when talking about diversity are ethnic backgrounds, but we wanted to include in the conversation gender identities, financial backgrounds, and first generation students who are coming here,” says Jacky Ayala, a sociology major who helmed the Educational Empowerment Mural project with several other students.
The mural serves as a colorful timeline for students, said Bianca Cervantes, a Texas native who said she experienced culture shock when she first arrived at Occidental. “One bird in the mural comes to Occidental, the other leaves with a leaf in its mouth, symbolizing education,” said the Latin American studies major. With her senior year just over and the colorful mural she helped create up on the wall, Cervantes admits that the project was daunting, but worthwhile.
As the design process began earlier this year, students gathered in a circle at group meetings and addressed what they felt were diversity issues at the Eagle Rock campus, where about 55% of the student body is Caucasion.
“It was a really powerful couple of group sessions that we had,” said Lopez, a Highland Park artist with other murals in the neighborhood. “The students opened up and really let loose what they were feeling,”
More of the design and painting process can be found at the group’s blog, Dialogue Through Art.
Nathan Solis is a Highland Park resident who writes about and photographs the L.A. music scene. You can find more of Solis stories, reviews and photos at Smashed Chair.