L/L mural left bare after complications

Nine months after the University decided to fix the El Salvadoran themed mural outside the Living/Learning Center, the walls are still white.

In February of last year, a decision was made to fix the El Salvadorian themed wall painting that had been covered in graffiti. The walls of the mural were painted white, preparing for a completely new and different design.

Student Government Association Speaker of the Senate Kevin Conlon is the representative working with the mural. He elaborated on what SGA President Connor Daley calls a few “setbacks” with the project.

“The mural was largely left in its white state because of the fact that there were plans for the mural to be painted during October,” Conlon said. “We have been working with [Alexandra Palin] who won our student led contest here on campus who transferred to another university following the announcement that she had won.”

Coordinating the schedule of Palin, a current student at the Maine College of Art in Portland, has proven difficult, Conlon said, calling this “the major deterrent” in the project.

“[We needed] to coordinate two weekends in a row for the proper painting and preparation for a mural of that size and magnitude,” he said.

This did not work out during the month of October and changes have to be made. The project’s new finish date is envisioned to be spring of 2014 due to the complications with the artist’s location, Conlon said.

Julian Golfarini, former SGA President, handed down this project to Conlon two years ago. He and several other SGA members had created an Ad Hoc Committee to deal with this issue during the 2011-2012 academic year. 

Conlon is not on the same committee this year, but he is continuing to work with Director of Living/Learning Center John Sama and Director of the Art Initiative at Living/Learning Ann Barlow on this project.

“The reason why we stayed true to this idea for so long is because the Living/Learning staff along with the SGA believed in student input and participation in this new mural,” Conlon said. “And the reason why the artist that we are discussing is still a part of the process is because they won a contest when proposed to UVM students by a significant percentage.” Conlon said. 

Conlon said he feels as though Palin’s vision still represented the UVM student body.

The organization of the voting process for this contest took about a year in total. During that year, Conlon and the committee members received feedback from more than 1500 members of the UVM Community. To start over with a new artist would cause a number of setbacks that would set the project to be completed possibly years from now, he said.

“I believe that if we went with another artist then we would have had to change the design as well, which essentially would have taken us a few steps back and really wouldn’t have involved the students here as much,” Conlon said.

Students admitted to being displeased with the current state of the mural.

“Personally, I am not sure what the whole mural looked like before, but I’d like to at least have something there rather than seeing a bunch of random drawings all over white walls on my way to class,” first-year Abby Holmquist says. 

Sophomore Claire Wiggins, a Living/Learning resident, agrees. 

“The mural is a part of the identity of L/L, and now it’s a blank canvas,” she said. “It would be nice if something was done before wintertime.”

Wiggins expressed her concerns and suggested an alternative for leaving the mural bare through the winter. 

“”There has been little talk of how it will be changed, which is disappointing,” she said. “L/L has multiple programs within the Arts Initiative that could make something of that space. It would be cool if students were able to get involved in the revitalization of the mural.” 

As of right now, the state of the mural will remain unchanged until Conlon and others working on the project can coordinate with both the artist and the weather. Conlon asks students to recognize the current state of the mural as something that was not expected, and came about through complications. 

“We sympathize and understand the feelings of the community,” he said. “We plan to take the appropriate actions to make sure this mural is completed in the spring of 2014.”