UWF students collaborate on Black Lives Matter mural project
The Kugelman Honors Program at the University of West Florida provided a group of students the opportunity to create history in the form of a public mural. Fifteen highly motivated and passionate students were selected to create the piece of art that serves as a collective response to the Black Lives Matter movement.
The final product is on display in the John C. Pace Library. The Kugelman Honors Program sponsored the project as part of its ongoing Equity and Diversity Initiative, which emphasizes a strong commitment to social justice and developing curriculum and programs that showcase the diversity of UWF students and the Northwest Florida region.
“UWF has a tradition of using public art on campus to engage students, faculty, staff and visitors, which we want to continue,” said Dr. Gregory Tomso, director of the Kugelman Honors Program. “I think the value in public art is ensuring the conversation about racial justice will be ongoing, even after this particular moment in history has passed.”
The students were involved in all stages of production, including research, planning, design, community feedback, site preparation, painting and preservation.
Marzia Ransom, art student advisor and adjunct instructor, served as the lead artist for the project. She said that she and the students discussed “having a voice loud enough to help those who cannot be heard” as they completed the mural.
“The metaphorical content of our work is intended to bring awareness and understanding, as well as being able to come together and assess through art the racial injustices that we are experiencing today,” Ransom said. “The mural is a collective statement of friendship and brotherhood as we work together trying to fight racism in every form.”
Nelly Arnett, junior communication major and graphic design minor, joined the project because it represents a commitment to change and a hope for a promising future.
“When I first joined the project, I was concerned about painting a mural that was nothing but words with empty promises,” Arnett said. “However, we’ve discussed that our entire goal of the artwork is to create something powerful and inspiring to make a loud statement that Black Lives Matter. I learned about how murals relating to the Black Lives Matter movement were covered up and how several cities were painting their own murals with no intention to create actual change, and my passion for this project grew.”
Hannah Lowe, a senior social work and psychology major, said she hopes the completed mural is a spark for action among the UWF community.
“I hope others gain the ability to be open-minded to the injustices that happen around and in front of us,” Lowe said. “I want the mural to create an area or topic of discussion and a call to action for any bystanders who may believe institutionalized racism isn’t an issue affecting our country, neighbors, friends or families.”
For more information on the UWF Kugelman Honors Program, visit uwf.edu/honors.