Global Union mural to highlight different cultures on campus

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The wall in Coxe Hall will soon be undergoing colorful changes, with plans for a mural that celebrates different cultures on Lehigh’s campus to go up soon. Winnie Gu, ’19, an art and architecture major and member of Global Union’s executive board, will compete the mural as part of her senior project. (Sally Solomon/B&W Staff)

With the Path to Prominence creating construction and renovations across campus, one project in particular will be a little quieter. With an emphasis on color, a mural celebrating domestic and international students will be going up in Coxe Hall.

The mural is part of a renovation project for the Global Union. Winnie Gu, ’19, an art and architecture major and a member of the Global Union executive board, took on this work as her senior project to showcase her art and architecture talents that she has developed over the past four years at Lehigh.

Cheryl Matherly, the vice president and vice provost for the Office of International Affairs, said the mural is part of the first phase to upgrade the Global Union space.

“We want to make this space a little more of a gathering spot here in Coxe Hall,” Matherly said.

Coxe Hall is home to the Office of International Students and Scholars, the study abroad office and the Global Union.

It’s important the mural represents the different cultures on Lehigh’s campus and connects those cultures to the domestic population.

“We are trying to connect local and global. We have students go out and we bring students in,” Matherly said. “It is a nice symbol of the mobility.”

There were different logistics that had to be considered during the planning phase of the mural. Lucy Gans, an art, architecture and design professor, is Gu’s adviser.

Gu and Gans worked together every week to discuss the mural’s designs and to make sure everything goes in the right direction.

“We talked about how to represent something, what might be best to represent, what kind of iconic images would work best, how you approach a mural and how you approach public art,” Gans said.

There were many elements that had to be considered. Gans said she and Gu had a few ideas.

They went into Coxe Hall and started measuring things to see if they could do some sort of an architecture illusion.

“Somewhere along the process she came up with the idea of a skyline in a simple mural,” Gans said.

The mural shows one wall of a skyline of landmarks around the world. The other wall has a skyline of landmarks within the United States. It’s painted as a way to sort of highlight the relationship between domestic and international cultures. They had the skylines painted in blue and green shades to represent the colors of the Global Union.

Gans credits Gu with all the ideas and designs. Gans was able to assist and make small adjustments if Gu needed help.

“If she wanted to arrange them in a particular way that made sense rationally but visually didn’t work, then I would give her advice and redirect her,” Gans said.

Working together, Gu, Gans and Matherly were able to figure out the way to best utilize the space to provide a powerful design and message to create a gathering spot for students in Coxe Hall.

This mural’s meaning runs deep for Gu.

“To me personally, it is kind of a statement,” Gu said. “It’s by an international student, for international students. I personally feel like I am in between the domestic and international population. I am legally a domestic student, but I came from a pretty international background.”

Gu said she was able to express herself within this mural and display her own international background as well as the diversity on campus.

“I was able to share my own experience and bridge my experiences at Lehigh together,” Gu said.

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