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Mural Themes, Painting & Celebration Events

Examples of images illustrating the major themes: 

  • Diversity:

    • Chilean pottery

    • Sun symbol from Taino peoples of Puerto Rico and some other Caribbean islands 

    • Navajo rug 

    • People holding hands, a symbol of solidarity and connection that also appears on the Mason Square mural in Springfield, MA that the muralists painted with youth from the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center and the Dunbar Community Center as part of the UMass-in-Springfield Initiative 

  • Opportunity and the Struggle for Justice:  

    • A peace welcoming in the words of Whatkononwaraton shared with Danny and Mark and students by Mohawk Elder, Tom Porter 

    • The Statue of Liberty: symbolizing welcome and opportunity for so many but not all who arrived on these shores--some in chains and certainly not for so many who were and are indigenous 

    • Those in the windows of the Statue’s crown: educators and civil rights activists, almost all of whom have direct ties with UMass and the local area; such as: 

      • Dr. W.E.B. DuBois, father of modern Sociology, Pan-Africanist civil rights activist and women’s rights activist for whom our library is named

      • Dr. Russell A. Hulse (’75), 1993 Nobel Prize winner for Physics—an astronomer (you can seek out the related imagery in the mural) 

    • Dr. Buffy Sainte-Marie, Indigenous Canadian-American from the Piapot Cree Nation (’70, ’90H) Indigenous rights activist, musician who was the 1st Indigenous person to win an Oscar (can you see whose guitar she is holding?) 
    • A set of images illustrates the relationship we all have to these themes within the mural: the chains of struggle unweave into the DNA that links us together  (see left side and top of mural)

Mural Painting @ UMass 

The process of creating such a mural was rather magical: Danny and Mark created an environment in which everyone felt welcome. Over 550 graduate and undergraduate students and 650 other members of the UMass and surrounding communities participated. Multiple classes from different disciplines visited to watch them paint and hear their story of reconciliation, and students showed up daily with images to include that spoke to them. Dozens and dozens joined the painting in between their classes; and they weren’t alone as administrators, faculty and staff and community members participated in painting.    

Mark and Danny masterfully took the images and ideas and crafted visuals representing the key themes that are part of UMass’ story and demonstrated the power of the art of conflict transformation; illustrating the importance of not only bridging divides but crafting narratives that reflect shared concerns and hopes for the future even in the face of political differences. There is no time more relevant than now for us to celebrate that and remember that this is possible.   

UMass Mural Events Celebrate Role of Art in Conflict Transformation  

  • 2010 
    “Justice, Diversity & Opportunity” was painted during the event series on Contested Geographies and a Shared Future: Conflict Transformation Through Mural Making and was unveiled by Rep. Neal, UMass Chancellor  Holub, Graduate Dean Mullin and faculty member, Dr. Leah Wing    

  • 2023 
    As part of the GFA @ 25 event series in the spring of 2023, the mural was professionally restored by Betsy Johnson (photo by John Solem) with support from the Office of the Chancellor and a Mural Rededication ceremony  was held on the date of the 25th anniversary of the Belfast Good Friday Agreement (April 10, 2023) with guest speakers:  

    • Dr. John Kennedy, Vice Chancellor for University Relations, UMass Amherst   

    • Dr. Peter Abbott, OBE, British Consul General to New England  

    • Dr. Laoise Moore, Consul General of Ireland to New England  

    • Danny Devenny, muralist and former Irish Republican Army prisoner  

    • Mark Ervine, British loyalist muralist  

    • Dr. Leah Wing, faculty, Legal Studies Program, Department of Political Science, UMass Amherst 

UMass Mural

History Behind Danny Devenny and Mark Ervine Painting Together

Art of Conflict Transformation Event Series Sponsors

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.