Art has been a journey for Luis Novoa, and one part of that journey was a calligraphy course he took at Salt Lake Community College.
Now, years later, Novoa’s and two of his colleagues have completed a mural for the college’s new Peace and Justice Garden, located at South City Campus. Administrators hope the garden will become a place for people to come together to heal from past traumas and build connections.
The three artists – Novoa, Alan Ochoa and Miguel Galaz, all previous SLCC students – formed the Roots Art Kollective in 2019 based on their shared vision to enrich their community with public art. Their experiences as Mexican American artists drive their mission to create environments that help people learn about different cultures.
The trio based their design on the concept behind the garden itself – ideas about peace and justice.
“Lotus flowers grow in harsh environments but turn out to be very beautiful,” Novoa said. “That represents that kind of struggle but also the peace that you find there.”
When looking for a color palette, Galaz said they reflected on healing and relaxation. “The color palette ended up being the same as SLCC’s, which was a cool coincidence while designing this piece,” he said.
A main component of the mural is the monarch butterfly, which the trio said is a symbol for migration and rejuvenation per the butterfly’s migration from northeastern North America to Mexico every autumn.
The mural also features calligraphy on its left and right sides, a point that connects to Novoa’s past when he took his calligraphy class at South City Campus.
“Learning those basic structures and now we’re working on a mural and doing some calligraphy there,” Novoa said during work on the mural. “So hopefully it’s received by my calligraphy teacher pretty well.”
The artists hope the mural will be well received by others, too – not only by students at the college, staff and faculty, and local high school students – but also by anyone who has the chance to see it. The message they hope to convey with the mural, Novoa said, is that with enough determination anything is possible.
“There will be a lot of youth walking around there and hopefully they will find some motivation or inspiration from that,” Novoa said.
The mural can be viewed on the north wall of the Peace and Justice Garden on South City campus. For more information about the Roots Art Kollective, visit the group’s website.