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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Mural to unify College and town of Grinnell

For the past couple of weeks, members from the Student Organization of Latinas/Latinos (SOL) could be spotted painting a large mural on a wall downtown.

Leader of the mural project, Lizeth Gutierrez ’12, got the idea for the project approximately a year ago.

“We wanted to express a sense of diversity—not just within the college, but also in the community,” said Gutierrez. “We figured this would be a great way to enhance that.”

Another individual heavily involved in the mural project, Anastasia Sample ’10 also believes that the mural is an important step in building a better relationship between the college and the Grinnell community.

“This idea basically stems from working with the larger Grinnell community, since generally we feel as though there is some tension between the college and the town,” Sample said. “I feel that this is where the idea came from for us to do a mural project.”

SOL collaborated on the project with the Galaxy Youth League in an effort to improve relations with the community. Gutierrez believes that a mural, more so than any other form of art, will convey this message of unity.

“By having kids participate, it’s a great way to get the college students to interact with them and also with the community,” Gutierrez said.
In addition to encouraging unity, a mural also serves as a relatable art form for viewers from a multiplicity of backgrounds, according to Gutierrez.

“A mural can make someone from L.A. feel at home, it’s a part of our culture,” Gutierrez said. “A mural can be a great way for people who come from all over the world—it’s something they can identify with in some way. It’s a great spark. ”

A Grinnell alumna, Director of Conference Operations Rachel Bly ’93, donated the wall for the mural, located on the brick wall at 818 4th Ave, behind the Danish Maid Bakery in town.

Though this is the first time that the College has funded a mural for the city of Grinnell, it is not the first time that SOL has presented a mural to the community. Paula Matallana ’10 described a previous SOL project that incorporated the concept of Paint-by-Numbers—a style of art performed by filling numbered areas with specific colors.

“We got ideas and symbols from SOL members of what, to them represented Latino identity,” Matallana said. “College students were then invited to paint [the mural]. It was just another opportunity for community members to come together. Instead of just having one or two artists paint, this way it was supposed to represent everyone.”

Gutierrez noted that there was an immense amount of support from members of the college community.

“There were a lot of people interested, and one way they did that was through funding,” Gutierrez said. “Rachel [Bly], Dottie [Slick] and Deanna Shorb have all been great support for us.”

Support came pouring in, not only from the college itself, but also from those living in Grinnell, according to Sample.

“It’s such a great feeling when we are in town working on it [and] so many community members stop by and say ‘thank you for beautifying our community,’” Sample said. “It’s nice to talk to community members and see that they are so appreciative, and to know that there’s that much kindness.”

The mural, designed primarily by Sample, reflects the values of the community and the college. For example, the design includes a book—symbolizing education—along with others.

“Of course, education is important because of Grinnell’s support for academia, but also I’m sure within the community, with people sending their kids to school, etcetera,” Sample said.

A tree, Sample’s favorite part, is another constituent of the mural, and stands for growth.

“There are roots in the tree, which symbolizes roots in the community, and that’s something that I really like about the mural,” Sample said.
The mural also boasts circles, representing unity.

“We wanted to represent the unity of the community, but also diversity within that—whether it be on a global level or whatever,” Sample said. “But there’s also a lot of other symbolism within [the design].”

Gutierrez feels as though the mural will foster a feeling of unity for as long as it is present in town. She hopes that there will be similar mural projects in the future and that other student organizations at the college will be inspired by the mural.

“We are working with the kids and a lot of the interactions we have while is working is connecting with the townspeople,” Gutierrez said. “A mural builds this sense of relationship—it’s like a starting point. ”

The official viewing of the mural will take place on May 15 at 2 p.m.

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