Department of Visual Studies, Austin artist mural empowers Dreamers

Upon returning to campus for the spring semester, St. Edward’s students, faculty and staff alike noticed a new addition to Hunt Dining Hall. The Department of Visual Studies, along with East Austin-based artist Gerardo Arellano, created a mural in support of Dreamers. Arellano, an immigrant himself, creates work that emphasizes culture and identity, particularly that of Latin America, deeming him a helpful creative source for the project.

The mural is located at the back of Hunt Dining Hall and covers an entire wall. Vibrant pinks and oranges set a lively tone to the piece and surrounding area. The focal point depicts a young, empowered Latina woman raising her right arm in a stance of triumph. “DREAMERS,”a word strong enough to convey an entire message alone, is painted across the wall in purple ribbon.

Among the foreground and background are butterflies. The monarch butterfly has always been a symbol of immigration rights, thus adding a sense of dignity and resilience to the artwork. Last semester, butterfly pins and magnets were distributed as a means of standing in solidarity with Dreamers.

The university has made it a priority to let this symbol endure and have its message be made evident throughout campus.

While the wall itself is visually pleasing, a significant and timely message lies beyond such aspects as well.

In light of the controversy regarding DACA, many individuals have been inflicted by uncertainty. Recently, the topic of immigration has escalated tremendously. Luckily, the presence of staunch activism has gained traction along with it. By advocating together, fears are mitigated.

It is imperative to foster a sense of belonging and inclusion among precarious times. Many students feel as though the mural assists in cultivating a welcoming environment.

“It truly symbolizes what St. Edwards is all about—how we come together to support one another,” student Sierra Rozen said. Reactions to the art have been overwhelmingly positive.

For many students, the mural has had quite a personal impact.

“When St. Ed’s revealed this mural, I was in love!” exclaimed Caitlin Villalobos, St. Edward’s student. “It is a beautiful piece that has created a safe space for DACA recipients. As a Latina, this hits close to home. I truly appreciate my school representing a community that is the target of constant struggles.”

Creation of the mural has subsequently induced feelings of hope.

Art has always been an outlet for the expression of social and political issues. Whether the mural aids inspiring activism, sparking conversation or simply invoking thought, it is bound to continue making impressions. Bold and empowering, it has thus far captured the attention of all who witness it.