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Student art brings color to MC

Photos of a black man with his hand in his jacket reaching for something was one of three pieces of artwork chosen for display in the Phyllis P. Marshall Center. The unveiling of three pieces of artwork by two USF students was held Tuesday at Patio Tuesday. The event, “Art Colors the World,” was hosted by the Office of Multicultural Activities.

The event was held to introduce multicultural art into the Marshall Center by purchasing the artwork to be permanently displayed there.

Eric Vaughn, graduate student for Multicultural Activities, said Phyllis P. Marshall made a donation to assist in purchasing the artwork for the Marshall Center. The unveiling was at noon and Nicole West, Coordinator for Multicultural Activities led the event. The artwork of students Natasha Townsel and Mario Velez was chosen for display. Townsel, who is a junior majoring in Mass Communications and a member of The Black Student Union, has two pieces on display.

One piece, “Assumptions,” is a series of three black and white photos of a black man with his hand in his jacket. What may be perceived as a weapon turns out to be a Bible.

Townsel said the piece is her commentary about racial profiling in the media. She feels that blacks are still seen as thugs, drug dealers or thieves. Townsel got the idea for “Assumptions” from a class she took called Racism in American Society. She said the stories about blacks being pulled over by police for no reason, influenced her work.

Townsel said she didn’t expect her artwork to be chosen.

“I was shocked. I couldn’t believe they picked mine,” Townsel said.

Townsel has been drawing since she was three years old and said she is excited to finally be recognized.

“I’ve never sold any of my work before. Now I have more confidence to show my work,” she said.

Students gathered for the unveiling and looked closely at the artwork. “Assumptions” is the kind of photograph that speaks to you,” said Adrian Reyes, a graduate student majoring in Telecommunications.

Townsel’s second piece “As It Should Be” is a computer graphic that shows people of different races dancing together at a party.

“We have a diverse school, and we take classes together, but we barely say hello to each other.” Townsel said. “We don’t go outside of our ‘comfort zone.’ Why can’t we be in social situations together?”

Townsel said it was a drawing originally, but she recreated it on the computer in color for fun. She did not expect her work to be something she could sell.

Mario Velez, who works in Educational Outreach and recently received his certificate in photography, displayed his artwork called “Tango En La Boca,” which is a color photo of a man and woman dancing the tango in La Boca, a neighborhood in Buenos Aires. “When I take photographs, I try to catch the spirit of the moment. It’s really a spontaneous photograph,” Velez said.

The people in the photo are street dancers who were collecting money in a hat.

“It was a good opportunity to catch the spirit of the tango,” he said.

Velez said Argentina is a melting pot of European and African rhythms mixed with loud American rhythms. In the suburbs of Buenos Aires, the setting creates tango. When he heard his work was chosen, Velez said he was very proud of himself.

Velez, who is Mexican, said he felt it was destiny when he moved to the United States three years ago.

“USF is a good example of diversity, and you don’t see much (diversity) in the north,” said Valez.

  • Contact Kelly Icardiat