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Galen’s Mural: A Symbol of Pride

Art was the focus at Galen University in the Cayo District, as a mural was unveiled today that showcases the work of ten art students. With little to no experience in art, these students were able to dabble with brushes and paint to produce this work of art that now sits in one of the university’s classroom. Fernando Cruz, is the Art Instructor who took pride in today’s unveiling ceremony.

Fernando Cruz – Art Instructor: “We started looking at the point of actually then taking and showing them how to prepare a wall because a wall cannot be dampened; it needs to be plastered, it needs to be primed but also to take a design, the way how to be able to grid, to transpose it, to make it bigger so taking them through drawing. Some of these students have never picked up a pencil and drawn but the idea was actually to build confidence. The class is not only about painting a wall but we wanted to build their confidence. What I wanted to do with them was to build this thing with them to say you know what, look, you can do it. When I told them, I said you know what you guys will be painting a mural in two days they never believed it.

Murals can be found in many parts around the world. They are not only used for artistic expressions but to convey messages. The Galen mural is more of a symbolic nature, however, the painting depicts the problems that the country is currently grappling with.

Fernando Cruz – Art Instructor: “What the students have actually put here, they decided to take a topic of the migration of people, the unity of people, also, the whole environmental problems that Belize and the world is having so if we look at the side of the wall from left to right we are looking at an image for women but if you see the way she is painted, she is painted in a mixed dimension, also, her hair is two different styles. It is actually just a representation of the multicultural aspect of Belize but also of the world. This part of the wall itself is looking upon the point of migration and people moving for economic reasons, people moving for fear for their lives, people moving because they want a better livelihood. Tata Duende is depicted as the guy who protects the forest so he is not one of the happiest guys whenever it comes down to deforestation. The concept of the spider monkey was put there because, in reality, the spider monkey walks upon two legs and he also only has four fingers on each hand, that is probably why they think you know maybe some people think that they see the Duende but actually what they see is a spider monkey. The bill that they just passed concerning the ban on plastics, I think it is a beautiful thing because I think also we have to look towards the point that one of the biggest problems third world countries have is their love for plastics, third world countries love plastics and that has made third world countries the biggest polluters of their own environment because of plastics so that is what the students wanted to depict here and it is not only plastic bags, plastic bottles, it’s old tires, everything seems to end up at the river, from there it ends up to the sea. We have to think about it environmentally that we drink from that same water, we bath in that same water so what are doing to ourselves.”

The 9-week elective art class saw a cohort of four males and six females engaged in mural production as a part of their final assignment.  When it was all said and done, even they were stunned at the final product.

Flora Choc – Art Student: “At the beginning of this semester it was very challenging because of none of us in the class had experience when it came to paintings, drawings. We were a bit excited about it because we found out that we had an entire wall to paint and some of us were a bit nervous to how we would get this done but the teacher provided us with a break down of how this will be done, he took us through it step by step and we are very much satisfied with the outcome of it.”

Lucille Mendez – Art Student: “This art course definitely exercised our creativity.  I feel like doing art and painting it really takes you away from the troubles of your life and I could relate to the artist where they actually have that passion for art because art has that power to engage you so fully that you just forget all your troubles.”

Christopher Pulido – Art Student: “It was a form of expressing my emotions, my feelings towards things that are happening in today’s world when it comes to our environmental problems, when it comes to the politics of things, all of that is expressed through the mural.”

The mural measures 8 by 33 feet and was done using acrylic paint. Galen’s Provost, Dr. Eve Aird explained that not only is it an accomplishment for the students but a symbol of pride for the university.

Dr. Eve Aird – Galen’s Provost: “I think it is a brilliant representation of what we do at Galen University, it is a brilliant representation of all the programs that they are studying and how it all comes together for us to express the need for us to be unified as a people regardless of where we are from, to resolve today’s problems.”

Today’s unveiling had the attendance of the Board of Directors, students, parents and Galen supporters. Reporting for Love News, I am Johnelle McKenzie.