Murals celebrate department diversity

Lexington Souers

Murals in the UK College of Agriculture buildings are showcasing the departmetns commitment to diversity.

Last October, more than 150 College of Agriculture members participated in Intercultural Awareness Day. The event had a variety of speakers, an essay contest, an international food banquet and a community art project that is now displayed in the Agricultural Science Center North, Charles E. Barnhart, Erikson and W.P. Garrigus buildings.

The project was orchestrated by Quentin Tyler, assistant dean and director for Diversity in the College of Agriculture, and Natasha Saunders, extension associate and chair of the Intercultural Awareness Day.

According to Tyler, the mural shows that diversity is central to the college’s mission statement and vision.

“The mural was a visible representation of diversity throughout four areas of our college as a constant reminder of the importance of diversity and to show that we are diverse and inclusive and that everyone contributes to what makes our college great,” Tyler wrote in an email.

Participants were asked to depict how they contributed to diversity. The mural tiles cover a variety of themes, like the artists home state or country.

“One of the ones that I really love is like a puzzle. It’s like puzzle pieces that are all different shapes and all different colors, and that’s how this person saw diversity,” said Betsy Kephart, administrative research assistant principal for the Office of the Assistant Dean for Academic Administration.

DeAnna Williams, a natural resources and environmental science sophomore, drew a cardinal bird on her tile because she is from Louisville. She said the mural showed how different everyone’s idea of diversity is.

“I enjoyed it a lot. When I first got the tile, I was confused on what to draw … Then I was like, ‘what speaks the most about me,” Williams said.

The four murals were framed, and 12 of the tiles were  selected as winners of a contest for the best tile and will be reproduced as coasters and an 18-month calendar.

Kephart said several committee members visited Megan Sauter, the artist hired to orchestrate the murals, while she worked on a similar project at elementary schools. Sauter provided the group with art supplies and fired the tiles in her Frankfort studio.

As for the future, Saunders said the next Intercultural Awareness Day will focus on women in agriculture.

“As a result of this program, we aim to inspire current women and men in our college as well as those students who will be the next generation of leaders,” Saunders wrote in an email.