Public art celebrating Pride is coming to SFU Burnaby

The Peak sat down with Out on Campus Coordinator Ashley Brooks to discuss the importance of this mural

“I think it’s really important to, as a student, see yourself represented on the campus,” Brooks said in an interview.

By: Gabrielle McLaren, Editor-in-Chief

In early July, Out on Campus (OOC) reached out to its Facebook followers, announcing that SFU’s next mural would be centered around the theme of Pride. The post went on to ask students: “What imagery do you want the design to evoke (e.g., activism)? What do you want the mural to communicate to our campus community? What important icons should be included?”

The Peak sat down with Ashley Brooks, coordinator for OOC,  to learn more about how this mural is going to come into being. 

“The idea is that the artist has some hard lines that they block in to maintain, I guess, the integrity of what the design is supposed to be and then there are then tiles reserved for students, and students can decorate them however they want. And then they will be part of the design,” Books explained.  

“We currently have two other murals here, down by the transportation center as you come up from the bus loop. It will be a similar kind of design; they have the same artists that they’ve consulted.” 

The two murals to which Brooks referenced were created during the Fall 2018 Week of Welcome by artist Lewis Lavoie, his team, and over 300 students “to celebrate SFU’s commitment to diversity, community and engagement,” according to the plaques accompanying them.

This project emerged out of student consultations between the Student Engagement Office and SFU students, who suggested the theme of Pride—which Brooks called very encouraging, and emblematic of “an awesome student community.”

Brooks was then contacted by Student Engagement, to facilitate consultation with SFU’S LGBTQ2+ community. One recommendation OOC made was to be mindful of and establish preventative measures against potential vandalism that the mural might face—especially given recent instances of posters for their #WeNeedtoPee campaign being torn down or vandalized. 

“We were just concerned that that might be an issue for something that was even more visible and even more colourful and that will be seen by lots more people,” Brooks said. According to him, these concerns were taken seriously. 

Community consultations also raised the importance of honouring and recognizing two-spirit identities, which Brooks said would most likely be represented more in-depth by a seperate piece of art created by an Indigenous artist. 

Overall, he is excited for this new development.  

“I think it’s really important to, as a student, see yourself represented on the campus,” Brooks said. “That looks like a lot of different things—it looks like seeing yourself amongst the other students, seeing yourself among the diversity in the staff, and also in just how the building itself communicates diversity and inclusion.”

He continued: “We already know that there’s a relationship between how buildings are designed and how certain groups are included and excluded, and so I think that something like this public art installation will be an everyday environmental message that students and staff at SFU should feel proud of who they are and of their sexual and gender diversity.” 

As the project is still in its early stages, Brooks did not have a clear timeline of when students will be asked to engage with the artist and finalize the mural. While he had a draft of the design in his possession, he could not share it with The Peak as it was not final. However, he did smile as he noted, “It certainly promises to be colourful.”