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A new mural telling the story of Dominican University’s heritage and values through colorful and symbolic images is slowly coming to life.

Known as the Heritage Mural, the two panels line the hallway between Lewis Hall and Crown Library. The artwork was designed by Fran Gregory, a professional illustrator and muralist and senior graphic designer with Dominican’s Office of Marketing and Communications, with involvement from student artists Josslyn Baron, Cal Moran, and Cesar Torres, and art professor Frank Spidale. 

Painting began in mid-May. The goal is to complete the mural in August, Gregory said. 

“To those visiting Dominican for the first time and those who will pass through the halls every day, we hope that the mural reminds them that Dominican is home to all,” she said. 

The mural was born of President Glena Temple’s vision to see more images of students and student experiences featured on the walls of the university’s buildings, said Genaro Balcazar, vice president for enrollment management and marketing. 

“This mural will reflect our mission, our history and our heritage,” Balcazar explained. “It reflects the richness of our diversity on the walls of our campus.”

The mural consists of two panels. The first panel depicts the Earth suspended above hands of various skin tones, with two large faces on either side. The background consists of patterns and motifs of various ethnicities in cool purples, blues, and greens, which contrast with the warmth of the main elements. 

In the second panel, a contemplative winged figure with a rainbow gown holds a heart in her hands, a sun-like halo around her head. Butterflies flutter away on the side.

Gregory explained the symbolism behind the images.

“The two figures in the first panel represent Caritas et Veritas and our role in protecting and serving our world,” she said. “The hands holding the Earth are of all colors, reflecting a diverse people and the God of all races and creeds. It is meant to represent both us and God, working together to make the world a better place.

“The winged figure in the second panel symbolizes our aspirations,” Gregory continued. “As we follow our dreams, we wish to bring love and truth to the world with our gifts. It is a call to action, a statement of purpose, a mission. The figure is clothed in the inclusive rainbow to symbolize the full spectrum of people who are called by God to serve others. The heart at the center of the figure will be covered in mirrors, reflecting the viewer in each surface and suggesting the many ways in which we can bring Caritas et Veritas to the world. The butterflies signify immigration, resurrection and emergence as everyone in the Dominican community, transformed with a sense of purpose and passion, fills the world with their hopes, dreams and best efforts.”

The mural’s concepts reflect themes suggested by student groups, who were invited last December to submit ideas for content and motifs.

“Community input was essential,” Gregory noted. “We received a wide variety of ideas, from the abstract (inclusion) to the very specific (ants).”

The mural committee, consisting of Gregory, Spidale and the three student artists, met in January to discuss the community suggestions and brainstorm more specific ideas for themes and motifs. Gregory then submitted several sketches to the committee, which selected their favorites. A final set of sketches were presented to university groups for feedback, and the committee then decided to move ahead with the design that is currently being painted. 

When complete, the mural will also be a focal point for visitors and prospective students of Dominican University, Balcazar said.

“This hallway is part of the campus tour and we wanted to make sure we are highlighting our student body and the diversity of our students,” he said.

The emergence of the painting on the wall has been impactful, Balcazar acknowledged. 

“It’s the scale of it,” he explained. "When you see it on paper, you have to imagine what it will look like. But when you walk through the hall, it makes you pay attention. The colors are really vibrant and it’s unlike any other space we have.”