Faculty, staff, students propose campus mural on Faner Hall


Jessica Leonard, a graduate student in history from Carbondale, walks through the Faner Breezeway on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017, in Carbondale. A proposal by the Hispanic Student Council would allow a mural to be painted on the breezeway walls. (Branda Mitchell | @branda_mitchell)

By Diamond Jones

The Hispanic/Latino Faculty and Staff Council is asking the university to allow that a mural be painted on Faner Hall in response to recent negative media attention and conflict within the institution.

With the help of some students, the council sent a proposal letter to the chancellor’s office during the fall semester for consideration of the artwork. If approved, the mural, titled “Unity at the Heart of Campus,” will be painted in the Faner breezeway, covering two walls between the A and B wing of the building.

Mercedes Gomez Jacobo, the originator of the idea for the mural, came across the idea in 2011 when she was working toward her undergraduate degree and organizing projects as the Director of Arts for the university’s Student Programming Council.


Jacobo said the pitch price to the chancellor totals $27,000 to complete the mural on both walls, including other expenses.

Lori Stettler, the university’s interim vice chancellor for student affairs, said she had to review the proposal before sending it to the chancellor’s desk for final approval this week.

Jacabo said she and other fellow students have worked on getting a similar mural on campus multiple times without success, so as an alternative, in 2011 they held on-campus art classes on graffiti, funded by the Undergraduate Student Government. But the graffiti display was discontinued because of the teachers strike that year, she said.

Jacobo said one of the reasons she wants to see the project move forward is to help students from metro areas feel more comfortable when they visit the university.

Coming here, it was hard for me to adjust from urban to rural,” Jacobo said. “The university openly spends money on attracting students from large cities such as St Louis and Chicago, therefore should spend money on creating something that makes us feel at home.”

Jacobo, a Chicago native studying geography and environmental resources, said last year’s May 2 events that protested social issues such as academic diversity and racism pushed her to put the effort back into creating the mural. She said she hopes it will give people on campus something positive to talk about.

Esteban Del Valle, a well-known mural artist and SIU alumnus from Chicago, would be the creative director for the project if it is approved under the council’s proposal. He completed a mural for the Longbranch Cafe & Bakery in Carbondale and will soon be traveling to Spain to complete another one.


“If administration doesn’t put any money toward it, then that’s just the yes that will push us to rally and fundraise to get the money,” Jacobo said. “I have people ready to make donations but I won’t take anyone’s money until I know we receive complete approval.”

The mural would take up to two weeks to complete, according to the proposal. There would be two town hall meetings held two months apart and open to the community, alumni and university to contribute ideas for the vision of the mural.

Valle would then create a draft from the ideas and wait for approval from the mural’s committee for the final painting.

Jacobo said she would like students to participate in painting the mural but it would put more money on the price tag for insurance. She said Valle will be accompanied by an assistant and the mural wouldn’t need a touch up for another 10 years.

“Art is about all walks of life,” Jacobo said. “I want it to bring the campus together, and I feel as if this can create a sense of unity.”

Campus reporter Diamond Jones can be reached at [email protected], 618-536-3325 or on Twitter @_dimewrites.

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Correction: The Hispanic/Latino Faculty and Staff Council is proposing the mural, not the Hispanic Student Council.

Correction: In 2011, Jacobo was working toward her undergraduate degree, not graduate degree.