New mural celebrates the student union as a place for everyone

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In a section of the Erb Memorial Union transformed from a dining area into a mural painting zone, University of Oregon senior Anna Gröne makes detailed brush strokes using yellow acrylic paint. One trick she’s learned: keep your wrist loose. This September, Gröne and nine other UO students took turns helping Chicago artist Sam Kirk create a 25-foot-tall mural titled “We Are the Foundation.” Together they’ve painted 16 irregular shaped boards now installed near the EMU’s north entrance in interlocking pieces. “Public art is important for communities,” Kirk said. “It’s an opportunity for us to create more visibility and representation for folks who have been excluded throughout history or continue to be excluded.” Students used painting guides to complete the mural “When people see this piece, I hope they see a reflection of themselves, feel comfortable and are reminded of their power,” she said. “I hope it reminds them that this building is a safe space.” Kirk was chosen by the EMU’s art committee in April following a national call for proposals. The multidisciplinary artist — who identifies as a queer, biracial woman — often explores culture and identity politics through her art. Her creative process began with research about...