Multicultural mural in the works

Taylor Bolanos
LV Life Editor

For some students, fulfilling the values at the University of La Verne should be shown, and not told.

In an effort to make the University more diverse and inclusive, especially representative of more students, students and faculty created the Art Council.

Initiated by senior English major Carlos Yanes and alumnus Gerardo Cuevas, the Art Council hopes to broaden La Verne’s artistic engagement. The council incorporates the ideas of student representatives from each class as well as administrators and faculty with planning and financing experience.

The Art Council hopes to give students the opportunity to express themselves as well as feel culturally recognized on campus. By working with different organizations and clubs on campus, artists with diverse backgrounds, as well as commuters, residents and international students, the Art Council plans broaden the University’s inclusivity.

During council meetings, members, including Chief Diversity Officer Beatriz Gonzalez and Associate Professor of Art History Jon Leaver, discuss initiatives to incorporate more art on campus as well as the logistics behind each plan. Funding, budget, location, research, artists and more must be discussed before any plans can begin.

“This year there were a lot of campus protests across the country, so we wanted to be ahead of that not behind it,” Gonzalez said.

“We reached out to art professors, art chair, the head curator of our gallery Dion Johnson, to see if they’d be willing to work with students on this Arts Council so it would become not just this a council for (the mural) but that we would have at the University an on-going arts council, the purpose of which to diversify the art on campus, help it reflect more the identity of the students, all of those identities, and also art that would help students critically reflect on social justice issues, diversity issues, multiculturalism.”

Yanes and Cuevas initially approached administration about creating a mural on campus that would recognize diverse cultures of students. Yanes was inspired by local artwork in his hometown.

“I’m from L.A. so where I go, there’s murals, there’s art,” Yanes said. “I’m not an art major, but I love art, I love going to museums, I just love learning about art because it’s something that we uphold so much but we don’t really engage, we don’t really understand it.”

Yanes joined forces with Cuevas and the idea soon grew into an even larger venture.

“The way we thought of it was that just like we have MLK Day that speaks to our value of civic and community engagement, it would be cool to have a project or an initiative that kind of encapsulates diversity and inclusivity in the same way that MLK Day of Service does for community and civic engagement,” Cuevas said.

Yanes and Cuevas plan to exemplify La Verne’s values and display works of art that incorporate many cultures and ideas.

“Values speak a lot about what that organization or institution is about and we believed that values should speak for themselves,” Cuevas said. “Imagine if you came as a first time generation student and your parents didn’t speak a lick of English, whether it might be Arabic, Spanish, and someone hands them an English-written pamphlet of diversity and inclusivity. The alternative is they see a big mural that’s diverse and inclusive of all cultures.”

Plans for the mural and many more diverse and inclusive projects are now underway.

“This is a precedent, this is just the first example of the many, many things that students can do,” Cuevas said.

Taylor Bolanos can be reached at

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