Beautifying Dubuque as a means of peace

Anyone who has ventured off Loras’ campus into downtown Dubuque will likely have seen the beautiful murals that are painted on the sides of some buildings. This was a response not only to beautify Dubuque, but also to bring an element of peacefulness to the city. Studies show that creating art brings about a more peaceful atmosphere, something that five senior Duhawks know a lot about.

Under the direction of Dr. Pitt, their advisor, senior Honors students John Stoppelman, Lauren Sutton, Genevieve Brockway, Richie Rosean and Caitlin Hansen have been working on a project called “Artistic Formation for Peace” for the past two years. Their project has culminated in the creation of a mural in Jefferson Park. This project builds on the idea of finding more constructive outlets for dissatisfied members of the community. Instead of acting out in violence, people can use art to turn their frustrations into something beautiful. Research done by the group has revealed that creating art in communities actually brings about more peace. Like any Honors group, they started out with a broad idea—using art to promote peace—but found it difficult to narrow down to a specific project. That’s when Sutton decided to reach out to her Spanish professor for ideas.

Former Loras professor Dr. Dana Livingston was a big reason why the group got involved with their current project. While he was in Dubuque, he worked with Future Talk, a summer program for Dubuque teens held at the Multicultural Family Center. When Sutton heard about that program and Dr. Livingston’s involvement, she reached out to him about their Honors group possibly working with Future Talk.

“He was super excited about our interest, and eagerly met with our group,” Sutton said. “(He) told us what Future Talk was all about, and how connecting their mission with art would work perfectly.”

The Jefferson Park mural needed to be repainted, but there wasn’t money in the Multicultural Family Center’s Future Talk budget to complete the project. That’s how this group decided to take on repainting the mural as their project.

During their junior year, Rosean, Hansen and Sutton attended Teen Night every Wednesday at the Multicultural Family Center to become more familiar with the people they would be working with and start planning the mural.

“We had them think about their heritage and upbringing,”  Stoppelman said, “and then had some of their ideas incorporated into the mural.”

In July of this year the group began the actual painting of the mural. Group member Brockway worked on the painting over the summer alongside a local artist that the group hired to help them. The high school students who were part of the weekly Teen Nights also contributed to the murals and added items that were important to their own individual cultures.

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