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Painting illustrates identity on campus

Inclusion grant yields colorful project

Published: Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Updated: Tuesday, January 28, 2014 23:01


Jenna Rabel

Ali Mendha (second from left) and Jude Magoro (right) sit in front of the painting by Jill Pankey.

As students tramp from class to class, certain facets of their identity may be proudly displayed while others might be quietly tucked between papers and books in their backpacks.

In a celebration of these unique identities, along with the common threads which bind individuals together, the GLBT Resource Center unveiled “Celebrating Shades of Color,” a painting that displays the diversity and intersectionality of members of the LGBT community at Texas A&M on Tuesday.

The painting, created by local artist Jill Pankey, was commissioned by the student organization, Shades of Queer. Jude Magaro, president of Shades of Queer and senior anthropology major, said the funding for the painting came from the Department of Diversity and the 50 Years of Inclusion grant.

“The 50 Years of Inclusion Grant got funded because it’s been 50 years since Texas A&M has allowed both men and women into the university,” Magoro said. “That was also when the first African-American student was admitted. In the spirit of inclusion, they opened up the grant to all types of diversity, and the significance of having this painting in the Resource Center is that the community has grown and the LGBT community is a part of the Aggie family and that there is as much diversity within the LGBT community as there is in the rest of campus.”

Ali Mendha, treasurer of Shades of Queer and senior anthropology major, said the painting is meant to signify the diversity within the LGBT community. 
“The significance, we feel, is it’s a different way to educate the general community that LGBT community is not so single-faceted,” Mendha said. “It is not always what is portrayed, not all LGBT gay men are white, gay men that are blonde and pretty, not all lesbians are wearing plaid and have the hats turned back.”

Mendha said college students can relate to the painting and the message of intersectionality that Shades of Queer promotes because of the diverse identities each person may claim.

“Problems that we have in our lives are not simple,” Mendha said. “There are many aspects of an issue we’re looking at, whether it be in our research, in the people we know, or anything in our work. People are complex.”

A group from Shades of Queer were in downtown Bryan during a First Friday, Magaro said, and fell in love with Pankey’s work when they went into her studio.

“Jill [Pankey] is very supportive of diversity initiatives as well as the LGBT community,” Magaro said. “She’s a wonderful ally and when we approached her about the project, she was very excited.”

In a statement from Pankey, she said the painting is about the celebration of uniqueness among Aggies.

“When thinking about honoring this group of multicultural students, I knew I wanted to focus on the notion of celebrating a diverse group of young people that wanted to share their common experience,” Pankey said.

While the GLBT Resource Center and Shades of Queer are not officially connected, Magaro said both organizations play a role in the LGBT community.

“We are not officially connected, but like in any community there are several parts,” Magaro said. “So the GLBT Resource Center and Shades of Queer are both part of a larger LGBT community on campus and in the Bryan-College Station area.”

Magaro said he is proud of the LGBT students at A&M who have worked hard to make campus a more welcoming environment.

“I am quite proud of having been a student leader for some time, ever since I was a freshman at A&M,” Magaro said. “I am proud that things have changed this much and that the community is more open. People recognize the LGBT community more as a part of the Aggie family because we are.”

The painting will remain permanently on display at the Resource Center, and prints will be distributed to offices around campus in the future.


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