Culturally rich, inclusive, transformative, empowering — this is UC Davis. And this is represented in the Student Community Center and Memorial Union murals.

Nurturing the Dream

Artist Susan Shelton's ceramic tile mural, Nurturing the Dream, was installed in April 2014 and celebrates the Student Community Center as a tangible symbol of goals set, struggles fought and dreams realized.

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The Practice of Freedom

Completed in 2012, Malaquias Montoya's mural, The Practice of Freedom, welcomes students and visitors at the Student Community Center's north entrance. The mural depicts the university experience: students moving from one supportive hand to the other. One hand welcomes our culturally rich and diverse student body, and the other sends our graduates into the world — “students who are determined to make a difference,” Professor Emeritus Montoya wrote in his narrative for the mural.

Montoya’s art is the art of protest, in murals, paintings and silk-screen prints — a body of work that has established him as one of the nation’s most prominent living Chicano artists. Montoya's website.

He gives voice to the disenfranchised, say, for example, underrepresented minorities and students who may be the first in their families to go to college — among the people who are represented in The Practice of Freedom.

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The Unfinished Dream

In June 1990, UC Davis Art in Public Places issued a call to artists for a mural competition to "portray UC Davis' transition to a campus of true diversity, reflecting the richness of its many cultures and supporting its growing underrepresented populations."

Kim Anno and Miranda Bergman were selected by a committee of students, staff and faculty to paint the mural, which they titled The Unfinished Dream.

They chose to represent the theme in the following way: At the far left is a large Greek bust, facing a group of sculptures from Egypt, New Guinea, China and Mexico. There is tension between them.

The Greek bust represents the Eurocentric world view that believes European art and culture is above all others. The other group illustrates that, in fact, people all over the world were also creating magnificent art in complex cultures.

The middle section of the mural is about the struggles and contributions of many people towards a more just world. The artists believe that a society of equality in diversity does not happen automatically, but through people standing up against racism and oppression of all kinds. This possibility of freedom is represented by a flock of birds.

The final section of the mural uses the vehicle of architecture to represent the vision and dream of the world that will be possible when the beauty and integrity of every culture's contributions to the human family is respected and treasured.

The evolution of this mural was a collaboration between Anno and Bergman at every stage, from theme discussion and research to creating the sketch and painting it. In addition, there were several meetings with student groups to get input and discuss the design. These meetings resulted in changes in the sketch and a more vital and interactive process. In addition, students were invited to participate in the painting, and an excellent team of apprentices helped to complete the mural.