Erin Corcoran (firstname.lastname@example.org)
As you walk through the halls of first-year living centers, you may notice new artwork lining the Common Rooms. These installations are part of a new campus initiative, Art for Visibility.
Art for Visibility, a project spearheaded by students Abigail Coachi ‘22 and Brooke Yanaga ‘22, promotes visibility and belonging among Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) students on campus. Yanaga wanted to make an impact following a 2019 conversation as a Resident Advisor (RA) where a freshman approached her about feelings of burnout and alienation as a Student of Color living on a predominantly white campus. After this conversation, she wanted to contribute to changing the dynamic for this student and many other BIPOC students who face similar issues at Ursinus. Two years later, she conceptualized Art for Visibility as part of her senior capstone course, “Black Women Authors,” began writing project drafts and held two focus groups. Her conversations as an RA also made her realize the importance of placing these diversity-focused artworks in the first-year living centers of BPS and BWC. She then enlisted Coachi’s help as they both saw the importance behind the mission and had valuable experience in leading a similar project with the founding V.I.R.T.U.E. The two student leaders completed various tasks to bring this vision to life. They created and submitted a proposal for the Inclusive Community Grant, facilitated involvement and help from all involved departments, sought submissions, and oversaw the project installations. Many communities on campus gave integral guidance and support through the process as well, including faculty advisor Heather Lobban-Viravong, Curatorial Assistant Teddi Caputo, The Berman Museum, Residence Life, and Facilities.
Currently, the Art for Visibility collection features nine artists spanning across different identities and class years. Artists include Xuán Phan, Alexzandria Lubon ’18, Christy Nelson ’21, Abigail Coachi ’22, Jennifer Berrios ’22, Simba Kanjanda ’22, Nikole Lizeth Fandiño Pachon ’23, Isabel Wesman ’23, and Kyra Norman ’25. The media for these range from murals to paintings to photographs, each centered on their varied experiences as BIPOC on and off campus.
When asked about the importance of the permanent art installation, Yanaga replied, “These artworks will allow future first-years to see themselves on the walls of their residence halls and feel safe and seen, knowing that they are not alone on campus and that there were others who similarly walked these halls before them, as the artists will eventually graduate to become alumni and leave their legacies behind for future incoming classes.”
Both leaders hope that the initiative will continue to grow after their time at Ursinus comes to an end. Ideally, Yanaga and Coachi would like to see Art for Visibility expand to other living spaces at some point, such as Main Street or New/North. They have received positive comments on the current pieces, and are proud of the impact and representation this project will bring students for years to come.
To see the artists’ work and find updates about Art for Visibility, follow @ursinus.art4visibility on Instagram.