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Crime log: Subject barred after shoplifting at bookstore
By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • February 26, 2024

Students, officials unveil mural on University Student Center fourth floor

Sage Russell | Assistant Photo Editor
Melanie Rocha, pictured left, said she and Jenna Ahart, right, led the painting sessions for the 52-foot mural.

Officials from the Office of Student Life drew back black curtains to reveal a mural on the fourth floor of the University Student Center last week, complete with a cherry blossom centerpiece, a glistening gold George Washington statue on a bench and various D.C. and GW landmarks, like the Kogan Plaza tempietto, amidst a swirl of pink and orange dotted clouds.

Last Friday’s mural reception unveiled the semester-long work of Art n Soul, a newly formed student organization for creating art that officials from the Division for Student Affairs commissioned to visualize values of GW’s campus and the D.C. community, like inclusivity and collaboration. Melanie Rocha, the president and founder of the student organization, said at most five other Art n Soul members contributed to the mural but that she and sophomore Jenna Ahart, Art n Soul’s communications director, led the painting sessions to complete the 52-foot mural outside the fourth-floor elevators in the student center.

“This mural represents not only what it means to be a student at GW but also what it means to be a student in D.C. and how these experiences will carry us beyond in life,” Rocha said in her speech.

[gwh_image id=”1189585″ credit=”Sage Russell | Assistant Photo Editor” align=”none” size=”embedded-img”][/gwh_image]

Rocha said she submitted her initial mural outline to Office of Student Life officials Jan. 31, who reviewed her plan before approving the design March 15. Rocha said organization members used a projector in the beginning of the process to outline the mural’s figures and received a total of five paint colors from the University — buff, navy blue, white, pink and light blue — which they had to mix to achieve the additional colors necessary for each design element. 

Rocha said Miles Feacher, the program associate for student involvement who oversaw the project, originally helped Art n Soul e-board members set the mural’s unveiling date for April 13 to accompany the University’s “Buff and Pink Week” festival series, but that the organization’s e-board decided to email Feacher asking to postpone the unveiling three weeks. 

Rocha said the April deadline would have caused students contributing to the mural to rush their painting process and forgo details like fonts used for the Metro poles positioned next to a Metro train and the metal on the Professor’s Gate. She said the approval process, which took longer than the six-week painting period, delayed Art n Soul members from starting the mural until late March. 

“We wanted to have the little details,” Rocha said. “We wanted to have the perfect lettering and we just weren’t going to get that if the deadline was the initial date.”

Rocha said creating Art n Soul, the University’s first active art organization, meant she formed a space where she and fellow members could showcase their artistic expression regardless of their experience level during her speech at the reception,

“Jenna and I came to every session every day of the week, pretty much any time we weren’t doing other things, we were here,” Rocha said.

Ahart said Art n Soul members had to work in sections because the projector didn’t cast their outline on the entirety of the wall’s space and that they later realized they couldn’t fit as much of each design element 1 deposit casino  as they wanted, leading members to redesign the sizing of certain portions. She said they couldn’t turn off the lights on the fourth floor, causing members to free-hand most of the mural instead of using the projector. 

“I think people really enjoy it as a result, and it’s brought a lot of color to the space because before this it was just a fluorescent white wall, it was kind of like an eye sore, but now it’s so pretty,” Ahart said.

Freshman Holland Ley, Art n Soul’s event coordinator, said he helped coordinate two-hour time slots each Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday for up to 15 students to paint the mural after signing up for a slot and that members left Thursdays open as designated paint-drying days. He said he likes that community members will walk out of the fourth floor elevators and see the mural that e-board members worked on for nearly an entire semester. 

“To see how everyone wanted to volunteer and help out, and the people that came here and the friendships that we developed, it was really rewarding,” Ley said.

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