Mercyhurst alumna paints conservationist mural for father and professor

Ashley Barletta, Staff writer

We as humans have the responsibility to keep the Earth beautiful.

A former Mercyhurst student, Caroline Magoc, did just that by painting a 190 square-foot mural in the Belle Valley area as a gift for her father’s 60th birthday.

Her father is known by many on campus, because he is Mercyhurst’s professor of History and Public History, Chris Magoc, Ph.D.

Caroline Magoc attended Mercyhurst Preparatory School where she helped design “Chrysalis,” the school’s literary journal. She graduated from Mercyhurst in 2016 with a B.A. in Art Therapy. During her time here, she served as a co-editor-in-chief for “The Lumen.”

She also worked for two summers at the sustainable organic farm, which at the time, was located at the North East campus.

Magoc went on to earn a M.A. in Expressive Therapy at Lesley University in Boston. She currently works in the Office of Institutional Research at the University of Pittsburgh.

“I’d said that the mural was not a conservation piece, but that’s not entirely true,” said Magoc. “To be truthful, with everything I create and all I do I am thinking about our planet and the place and purpose of human beings upon it. To me, the question is not whether to conserve nature, but how we can live with ourselves as we pretend that the human species is not a part of nature long outgrown its apportionment of Earth. So ultimately, yes, you might call the mural I painted about preserving our world.”

The location of the mural is on the back wall of a shed in the Magoc’s garden, which is where Magoc’s parents asked her to paint it.

After preparations were made, it took her only six days to paint the mural itself.

Dr. Magoc truly enjoys his daughter’s beautiful artwork. “Painted on the backside of an old shed, a former chicken shack, the mural features a sequence of striking images: a monarch butterfly, bright red poppies, a large black cat, a massive oak tree trunk that appears to grow right into the foliage of living oak trees in the background and mushrooms growing out of its branches — all against a bright blue sky,” Dr. Magoc said.

The Magoc family’s history with Mercyhurst University goes back to the 1930s, shortly after the school opened.

Caroline Magoc’s mother, Mary Ellen, had aunts who attended the college.

Her father was taught by the Sisters of Mercy at St. George School and initiated the dental assistant program in the 1970s.

Dr. Chris Magoc began working for the University in 1998, and soon became friends with Sister Maura Smith. The two worked together to found the Mercyhurst Green Team.

To this day, the team works to instill sustainability on campus, including at the Sister Maura Smith Garden.

Caroline Magoc hoped that the mural would challenge rules of scale and perspective, showing a world of whimsy and psychedelia.

Part of what may have inspired her to paint the mural is that for many years, Mary Ellen raised monarch butterflies on the Magoc family acreage.

Magoc’s love for nature truly shines through, and shows us its beauty when it is properly cared for.

“The mural was a meditation on dimensions and imagination. I used elements of some of my (and my parents’) style and influence: psychedelia including the mushrooms and poppies, and the color scheme taken from the 1960s; an honoring of Sequoia sempervirens, the California redwood trees which are some of the oldest living beings on Earth; and an homage to my parents’ well-loved and lost cat Brego, as well as the monarch butterfly, whose security depends on people like my mother who support their habitat with care and devotion,” Magoc said.