The Mosaic of Life art show took place in the Student Union Great Room on April 12 to showcase and celebrate the artwork of Mercyhurst students who champion diversity. The annual event was organized by the Cohen Health & Counseling Center and Art Therapy department. It called for submissions of artwork relating to inclusion, multiculturalism and acceptance in student life.
The showcase welcomed contributions from all levels of artistic talent in a variety of mediums.
Submissions included visual art, poetry, dance, spoken word, music, collage, painting, drawing, mosaic, photography and more. The art was mainly representative of ethnicity, religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, ableism, inclusion and acceptance as well as many other themes. Artwork could be individually created or submitted as a group piece.
The inspiration for many submissions came from students’ personal understanding of diversity and inclusion.
Speaking on this, Megan Ligia Quiñones, sophomore Economics major, said, “For me, diversity is a lack of uniformity that promotes mass inclusivity and can only be learned from long-term experience and interactions with minoritized groups.”
Quiñones’ piece, titled “Changing the Narrative,” had originally been created as a cultural and linguistic autobiography for her Diverse Learners class, and dealt with these themes. After being prompted to enter by her professor, Janelle Newman, Ph.D., instructor of World Languages and Cultures, Quiñones submitted it to the “Mosaic of Life” show.
Quiñones hoped it would help others dealing with culture shock on campus.
“The piece’s meaning is a visual reminder of who and what I was when rejecting my identity, and who I aim to become by accepting it. It will remain in the Counseling Center for the remainder of my time at Mercyhurst to hopefully serve others and demonstrate that there is someone present and willing to address issues regarding intersectionality and Chicanx culture. Above all I want to express to the Mercyhurst community the absolute necessity of keeping one’s mind open to uncomfortable ideas,” Quiñones said.
All students who participated can also choose to have their art displayed until the end of the semester, until next year’s show or until they graduate. The Cohen Health & Counseling Center, which facilitated the event, did so to spread an important message: all cultures are enriched by the diversity of members and a welcoming spirit of inclusivity.
Students who submitted pieces were given name tags and encouraged to attend the event to answer questions and engage with those viewing the art. There were also refreshments from a variety of cultural cuisines and flowers and chocolates for the artists to take home as a thank-you.
Kailee Gorczyca, freshman Biology and Sports Medicine double major, entered a piece to demonstrate her love of ice skating and how it can address inclusivity.
“I wanted to show my piece, ‘Skate Like No One Is Watching,’ because I loved the meaning it has to me and wanted to share that with my fellow Lakers,” said Gorczyca. “My favorite thing about it would be the colors, because even though there are so many they all work together to complement the picture. I guess that is how I look at this campus — there are so many different individuals, but we all make the campus more beautiful.”
Entries were also submitted by various groups, including the Art Therapy Club, the Fashion Council, Psychology Club and Mercyhurst Active Minds.
As well as LGBTQ issues, multiculturalism and faith-related art, mental health was a central theme of submissions. Several entries focused on dealing with anxiety, depression and schizophrenia.
Freshman Education major Lauren Rogus entered her piece, titled “Anxiety,” to bring attention to important mental issues and the need for acceptance in our world.
“I participated in Mosaic of Life because I feel that diversity is something everyone should embrace. Diversity is not just a race, color or ethnicity, it is a knowledge of differences and how this uniqueness brings about creativity and new ideas,” Rogus said.