UC Davis Student Community Center, Davis, CA
UC Davis Campus
UC Davis Chicana/o Studies Mural Workshop
Directed by Maceo Montoya
Status: Mural processed stopped due to controversy over imagery; painted on panels instead
Photographers: Maceo Montoya, James Prigoff
Student Community Center Mural
Winter 2012 CHI/ART-171 Mural Workshop
Beginning with the right side wall, we have large faces painted in bold colors blending into one another representing the closeness of their shared experience. They stand next to one another in solidarity. The different faces also represent the different identities that are part of the UC Davis community. From the woman’s breath dancers from around the world emerge, representing not only diversity of cultures but also the confidence, movement, strength, and coordination involved in their expression. The dancer’s motion in the far left corner both beckons and challenges the viewer, representing the mission of many organizations in the SCC that both embrace and welcome students but also confront the challenges that students face. We placed the motif of peacock feathers in the background, which have multiple meanings in different cultures and histories, including Ancient Greece where the feather’s eye symbolized all-seeing knowledge and wisdom, and in Buddhism where the feather symbolizes openness. Pride was another meaning associated with the feather. Self-assurance, knowledge, and awareness are all attributes fostered in the SCC community. The fabric that encircles the composition is an extension of the dancer’s spirit, and also represents Danzantes, one of the original participants in Cross Cultural Days.
The cloth leads us to the overhead wall section where students emerging from pillars are holding up the perimeter of the wall border. A bright agricultural field dominates the background, speaking to the fertile growing region of Yolo County and Central California and is modeled after actual vistas surrounding Davis. The student pillars rooted in the ground, grow out of multicultural columns, and embody the fact that students are the foundation of the SCC. The Magnolia blossoms reference springtime and rebirth. The large sun in the back is an energy source for this activity.
Finally, the eye follows the cloth around to the leftmost wall. In the background, there is a large factory and a conveyor belt on which student ID cards are lined up in perfect marching order, representing the difficulty of maintaining one’s individuality within the university’s bureaucracy. The image warns of a cold impersonal institution creating manufactured students. However, students struggle free, emerging from the ID cards to become active participants in their education. They reach toward images reflective of SCC organizations’ mission, which include large photos from historic events connected to the SCC, such as the hunger strike, student demonstrations, a photo of North Hall where the Women’s Center is located, and a photo of the graffiti murals housed in the LGBT center. Figures emerge from the photo of the 1990 hunger strike, asserting the continued relevancy of student activism today. These figures gather around the hands cupped together and form a source of light giving us hope for positive change. The gathering is wrapped in a quilt, symbolizing the intimacy and closeness fostered by SCC student groups, as well as representing their collaborative work for social justice. The words in the quilt illustrate the mission statements and conversations of the different groups. The quilt flows upwards and contains symbols and motifs representing some of the SCC organizations. These symbols include the farmworker eagle, the peace sign, the pride flag, and the scales of justice.