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Campus Life

Art of Change: Plans for Proposed Mural Evolve

2014 Innovation Fund winner, Kolors of K, intend for the blank wall in Welles Dining Hall to be replaced by a more representative mural. (Robert Manor / Index)

A source of controversy had found itself in the cafeteria. In the Welles Dinning Hall, students have criticized Philp Evergood’s (1901-1973) mural, not for its contorted bodies, but for representing a predominantly white crowd in his work “Bridge of Life,” completed in 1942.

Last winter, the group Kolors of K, consisting of sophomores, Sarah Bragg, Ebony Jones, Kaylah Simmons and Kylah Simmons, won the first annual Innovation Fund, with their proposal to create a new mural across “Bridge of Life.” The Innovation Fund, which is a $5,000 grant is provided by the Student Commission (StuComm) and is overseen by Jasmine Kyon ’17, the Communications Representative on the Financial Policy Committee.

“It’s to improve the community: that’s the whole point of the Innovation Fund,” said Kyon.

Kolors of K hopes that the new mural would not only improve the College by representing a more accurate version of itself today, but that it would also represent an evolving environment.

“It will depict Kalamazoo now, but it [will] also depict Kalamazoo in the future. We are trying to find a way to incorporate in the image the fact that Kalamazoo is still progressing” said Kaylah Simmons.

Many students of color on campus don’t feel represented in the current mural and the prominent location of it impacts them everyday.

“The mural itself will improve the community because the one we have isn’t extremely diverse. There [is] so much potential and they [Kolors of K] just really grabbed onto that,” said Kyon.

Although plans for the mural have been underway, it must be approved by the Board of Trustees, specifically the Committee on Public Art. First, the mural must meet a certain set of requirements before approval and once it meets regulations, they are shown a completed design for the mural.

The backing of an established artist, will improve the group’s chances of approval, even though it may require more funding. The Hicks Center, mostly gets is funding from alumni, who have significant control over permanent changes to the building.

“It was supposed to be from the students, by the students, for the students. It’s about getting students together with their ideas without any interruption,” said Kolors of K member Ebony Jones.

Considering the obstacles that could prevent the mural from going into Welles, Kolors of K has made plans with the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership (ACSJL), which has agreed to be a home for the mural if the board rejects the proposal.

“We thought of the cafeteria because everybody goes there. Everybody sees it. You can’t ignore it,” said Jones, “but [at] the Arcus Center … it loses its meaning”

Creating a dialogue on social issues would be a critical aspect of the mural and they hope to maximize the amount of dialogue that happens.

“This mural would be a creative way to start dialogues. It would be another avenue to bring up these conversations,” Kaylah Simmons said. “Because if we don’t start a conversation, where are we going to go?”

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Art of Change: Plans for Proposed Mural Evolve