Pictured is the mural presented Thursday in the new Quad Living Learning Room on the GSU campus. (Photo by Carlton Hamlin/University Communications)

By T. Scott Boatright/University Communications

Grambling State University has a new Quad Living Learning Community Room located in the old Grambling Laboratory High School building that currently houses the Receiving Department.

On Thursday afternoon, the room was the site of the unveiling of an art mural designed by a team effort between GSU’s Department of Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA), the Northeast Delta Human Services Authority (NEDHSA) and the Black Creative Circle of North Louisiana (BCCNL).

NEDSHA has worked on using various art forms as one of its integrated health care, evidence-based prevention, communications, and treatment strategies to help serve persons with mental health, addictive disorders, and developmental disabilities. 

The new mural at GSU is the second commissioned public art completed through NEDHSA’s  partnership with BCCNL. 

NEDHSA Director of Public Information DeRon L. Talley said Thursday the mural was strategically placed on the campus in the Grambling High Building to help the students overcome the traumatic experiences they have had in their lives on campus or away from campus.

“While the murals we’re commissioning are generating much-needed regional economic development, diversity, and job creation, they are also helping our region’s vulnerable populations get the help they need,” said NEDHSA Executive Director Dr. Monteic A. Sizer in a press release. “We believe there is medicine in creative expression, and the arts can help a person come alive in ways traditional treatment options can’t. We intend to help create an environment where dreams are realized, families are strong, bodies are healthy, community institutions are thriving, and spirits are renewed.”

BCCNL Project Manager Brandon Virgil designed the mural with painting help from Rodrecas Davis, head of GSU’s VAPA department.

The mural incorporates the NEDHSA’s colors of purple, red, yellow and orange, and features the organization’s phoenix symbol as well as butterflies, which Virgil said are often used to depict people whose lives are affected by mental illness. 

“We tried to design a positive image that can help give (GSU) students a positive mindset when they come in and see the mural,” Virgil said.

In June, NEDHSA and BCCNL unveiled NEDHSA’s first wall art in downtown Monroe’s Art Alley.

“It’s always good to be invited to the party, but then you start thinking about the logistics — like how are we going to get this thing done in the amount of time we had?,”  Davis said. “We were on a deadline for some other projects, too, and working on murals in the middle of a Louisiana summer can be tough.”

The groups are working on another mural in Lake Providence with a third planned for Farmerville.

“I wasn’t able to work on the Lake Providence mural because summer school started, but hopefully I can work on the one that will be in Farmerville,” Davis said. “We’re building as many bridges as we can so everything isn’t only about the Black Creative Circle. We’re trying to get everyone activated in the process.

“It’s like being in the classroom, you do your own personal thing, but being able to get into the classroom and share what you’ve learned — that practical experience -— is what it’s all about and this is a way to demonstrate that the arts can be a formative experience for people who are involved and can make some kind of substantive change in people’s lives. It’s not just images on the wall, it’s about much more than that, especially when you can get people to stop and think about it.”