Electronic resources supervisor Taylor Wilcox saw a picture and drew immediate inspiration.
A co-worker in Trinity International University’s Rolfing Library showed Wilcox a shot from inside another university library, where vinyl stick-on letters spelled out “Welcome” in about 25 languages.
“Making our international students feel welcome and making the library as aesthetically pleasing as possible are both current goals, so we decided this would be a good project to pursue,” said Wilcox, who holds degrees in history and library science but no formal artistic training.
The library staff put out a call across the Deerfield campus for accurate translations of “All are Welcome.” They sought out any language native to a current TIU student, collecting the phrases and notes in a spreadsheet.
“We want to show how much we value our international students,” director of university library services Rebecca Donald said. “In addition, part of the library’s mission is to create community, so hopefully this mural creates an environment of warm welcome for all students.”
At the end of the collection period, Wilcox counted phrases representing 62 languages. Among them: “Konzan ayin mbaa bu maban” in Jju (Nigeria); “Buiti achülürüni houn sungubei” in Garifuna (Belize); “Har kimga xush kelibsiz,” in Uzbek (Uzbekistan); and “Kami menyambut semua orang” in Bahasa (Indonesia).
As the collection of phrases continued to grow during the spring, Wilcox had time to experiment with a design that would tie together all the phrases and command attention at the library’s circulation desk.
“As most design processes go, I had a lot of bad ideas before I landed on the final design,” Wilcox said. “I knew I wanted some sort of fabric or woven theme to represent the TIU community. So when I sketched out the twisted threads design, I immediately knew it was perfect.”She incorporated 10 distinct patterns into the design, each of which represents art traditions found in world cultures.
“As a library and the heart of the university, it is important to create this kind of environment to foster academic, personal, and spiritual growth,” Wilcox said in an artist statement just after the mural’s recent completion. “This project has already opened the door to many discussions as well as opened my eyes to the importance of recognizing and celebrating the rich cultural diversity we have on campus.”
A team of volunteers assisted in the project, including graphic designer and TIU alumna Stacy Wilcox Lubin, who researched and recreated linocut patterns.
The Deerfield Review photographed newly elected president Nicholas Perrin in front of the near-finished mural, selecting the scene as a backdrop for their feature story on his election as 16th president of Trinity International University.
It appears the mural already has inspired visitors to the library.
Donald says one international student was moved to tears when she spotted the greeting representing her native language.
“It brings attention to the ‘international’ part of ‘Trinity International University,’” Donald said.