Meticulous fingers had snipped the green glass tiles into pieces and fitted them snugly together within an outline of a Kirkland apple. The purple pieces filling in a cow appeared to have been set by a more free-wheeling hand. Such variation is fine, maybe even beautiful, in the eyes of Irina Rojas ’18, who came up with the idea of the Hamilton community mosaic mural. “The ultimate goal is for everyone on campus to put one tile on,” she says.
Rojas, a peer counselor trained by the Counseling Center to work with students on a range of issues, approached Student Assembly in October to propose the creation of a collaborative mural. She saw the project as a way to promote healing and bring students together as they processed several deaths in the campus community that had occurred in the preceding months. The assembly backed the idea, as did Dean of Students Terry Martinez. The ensuing mural is one element of overall College efforts to support student mental wellness.
Students submitted ideas for the design; six had their work incorporated. “Irina thought it would be a really good idea if it was students contributing in very personalized ways,” says Assembly President Nadav Konforty ’20. “The final image is a really cool conglomeration of a whole bunch of different styles of artwork from students — and also very much identifies Hamilton culture as it is now.”
It’s a conglomeration for sure. There’s a Cider Mill doughnut, plus iconic Hamilton images such as Steuben Field, the Chapel, and Alexander Hamilton himself. All hands are invited to help build the mural. Boston mosaic artist Josh Winer offered guidance, holding Skype workshops on how to cut tiles that are pressed onto a sticky backing anchored temporarily on plywood. Rojas traced the design onto the backing, and when students have time to cut and place tiles, they pop up to the third floor of Sadove Student Center where the project is spread out in sections on tables.
Winer visited campus to oversee the installation, and a Rojas held a ceremony to celebrate the occasion. For her and Konforty, the mural is both about process and a permanent statement.
“We really thought the goal of it was that it could be an outlet for people, an artistic outlet. One that would also, after it was done, be able to be mounted and seen by a large part of campus as a constant reminder of the strength of our community,” Konforty says.