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History Behind Danny Devenny and Mark Ervine Painting Together

Murals in the northeast of the island of Ireland played a vital role in communities during the most recent experience of the conflict--one that some see as an extension of an on-going conflict that spans over 800 years and others refer to as The Troubles: the period from the late 1960’s until 1998 when the peace accord was signed. In the north/Northern Ireland, an area the size of the U.S. State of Connecticut, more than 2000 murals appeared on the sides of businesses, housing complexes and even billboards in sheep pastures. The murals painted during those 30+ years conveyed powerful messages about experiences of loyalist and republican communities and their views of what the future should look like. Those futures were seemingly irreconcilable, many thought. However, with creativity and dedication, leaders from both communities and the British and Irish governments crafted the Belfast Good Friday Agreement, outlining a democratic structure for equality and for building a shared future. Danny and Mark took up the mantle and for the first time republican and loyalist muralists painted a shared narrative on the wall.   

In the summer of 2007 Mark and Danny undertook their first joint mural on the heels of the historic powersharing government that had begun in May after nine years of struggle to implement the peace accord. They chose a symbolic public space in Belfast and there they and their colleagues replicated Picasso’s anti-war and anti-facism mural, “Guernica.” And because they are leading message-makers—highly visible and respected muralists of their communities, they garnered significant local and international media attention—in fact, by the end of that summer it had become the number one tourist attraction in the UK according to The Independent—they were an inspiration by working together to increase support for the peace process. We are honored that they sent their second joint mural here where it was unveiled at UMass in 2008—and they named it “Painting from the Same Palette” in what became the inaugural event of the Art of Conflict Transformation Event Series.  

In 2009 and 2010, more than 70 faculty, staff, and administrators from six colleges within UMass Amherst collaborated in planning their residency and for almost a year and a half students communicated with Danny and Mark using a blog through which they conveyed their points of pride and what they viewed as unfinished work that UMass needed to complete to make this the best community it could be. The themes represented in our mural were developed by students and include struggles for justice, the power of educational opportunity, immigration and colonization, and strength in both diversity and commonality, all of which they saw as meaningfully relevant to their lives at UMass and in society. 

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The Art of Conflict Transformation Event Series brings to UMass scholars, artists, and conflict resolvers to explore the geography of conflict; the spaces in and on which conflict has been imprinted and expressed, and the emerging terrains of resistance, resilience, and transformation.