Tori Egleston Reflects on her Initiative to Create Niagara University’s First Social Justice Mural Series and Peace Garden

Murals hold the power to repurpose empty spaces into eye-catching and thought-provoking messages advocating for change, justice, and peace. Throughout history, the springing up of murals followed large social movements, furthering their messages and becoming permanent pieces of art with strong intent, but leaving room for the artful eye to interpret. Cities throughout the nation, even Niagara Falls, experienced the pop up of these statement pieces during and immediately after the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020.

 

Black Lives Matter Mural on Depot Avenue West, Niagara Falls, NY, across the street from Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Museum.

Inspired by her passion for social justice and art, Tori Egleston, Senior Social Work major and member of the Justice House program, took the initiative to create a series of murals for the Niagara University campus that illustrate various forms of justice. These will be the first murals that Niagara has on its campus, and each of the artwork pieces will have their own unique messaging. Egleston plans to paint the murals on the bricks of Timon Hall, using the splash of greenery encased by the three walls as a peace garden that students can use as a place to reflect, gather, and converse. Below is a quote from Egleston describing the project:

“My idea is to create a peace garden space. A safe and tranquil area that celebrates diversity in the unused outside area of Timon Hall. This student-led art initiative will be filled with social justice theme murals, greenery, ideally a small community library, and places to sit, study, and relax. The murals will be dedicated to the Black Lives Matter movement, peace, justice, and Haudenosaunee solidarity. It is critical that, as a campus, there be support for those who have and are still experiencing oppression, discrimination, and injustice. This project is intended to bring forth a visual representation of Niagara’s commitment to social justice and peace. The future is intersectional and activism is essential.”

Egleston is in the process of completing the drafts for the murals, and plans to move forward into the painting stage over the remainder of the summer. The beautiful and inspiring work that she is doing will surely serve as a stepping stone in the University’s pursuit of change and justice, while providing an inclusive space made for students and by students that iterates peace and the passions of the community’s student activists. 

Though I am sure I have you on the edge of your seat, the designs are a secret - guess you will just have to wait for the final product this fall! However, if you are eager to see some phenomenal artwork made by local activists, I recommend that you check out the mural mentioned above across from the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Museum.