Brush with hope


UIndy senior Kevin Moran was born in El Salvador, but his  family moved to Indianapolis in 2004 in order for his father to  pursue nonproft work in the city. When his family moved back to  his home country, Kevin decided  to stay here in the United States  to pursue his education at the  University of Indianapolis. Kevin immediately got involved with the Honors College at UIndy and he knew he wanted his project to be “back at home” in El Salvador. Kevin, who is double-majoring in Visual Communication Design and Studio Art, is thankful for his education in the U.S., and he wanted to give back to his country by using what he’d learned to battle an issue that is prevalent in El Salvador—gang violence.

“Gang violence is inevitable” in El Salvador, Kevin says, because there is no money for students to go to school. Often, instead of heading to college, young people join a gang. And throughout El Salvador, Kevin says, “all you can see on the walls are signs from gangs. I wanted to cover it up with something positive.” He developed Mural for Hope.

Bringing skills back home

Inspired by the University’s long-time motto, “Education for Service,” Kevin headed to the city of Ayutuxtepeque in San Salvador to use his painting skills to help the young people there and the community  in general. mural-3While writing his Honors project proposal to get his project approved, Kevin had planned ahead, asking his father to connect him with a local school that would allow him to paint a mural on its property. Kevin also recruited the help of graphic design major William Renick, elementary education major Anna Elzer, and graphic design major John Lasky, who had graduated the previous year, as well as Nelson Wei Tan, a professor in the Art & Design Department. The group headed to El Salvador in May to create the mural. But when they arrived at the the school, Centro Escolar Doroteo Vasconcelos, they realized that the wall the mural would be painted on was seven feet above the ground. Kevin and his team then made a deal with the mayor of the town to obtain wood to make their own ladders, and then leave them behind for the community to use later. The community was very supportive of the project. Elementary school students and high school students alike pitched in. Some of the local citizens brought food and water for Kevin’s team as they worked. The project even gained national media attention.

Explaining the mural

The mural represented Kevin’s hope for the young people of El Salvador —that they would be able to imagine a better future. At the center of his work stand a boy and girl holding hands.

“This embodies the equality of males and females and the happiness and optimism that can be obtained by standing equally in any endeavor,” Kevin explains.

The children are depicted standing atop symbols of the negative forces that plague the country’s youth, suggesting that the children have defeated these obstacles. The children are also standing in front of a microphone, speaking out against those forces to show they have been defeated, bringing on a new era—represented by the rising sun. The items surrounding the children show “the elements that can overshadow the unconstructive and lead to something better,” Kevin says. They represent the arts, symbols of labor and education, butterflies representing hope and change, and doves that symbolize peace, harmony, and freedom.

Just the beginning?

Kevin is interested in exporting Murals for Hope to other parts of the world. He’s hoping to show the mural to potential donors to raise funds for a future mural project. He may even create a nonproft organization to continue the effort. In the meantime, however, Kevin is gathering another group of people  to complete another mural project next summer.

—Jenn Meadows ’14