By Lucy Ruscitto | Staff Writer
Students have the opportunity to join Baylor Missions & Public Life for their first “Love Where You Live: Street Art Tour” through downtown Waco on Friday from 3 to 5 p.m.
Some well-known murals that the group will be viewing will include the “Mick Burson Abstract” mural, “Bold Waco” mural and the “Dichotomy Waco” mural, among others. Those who signed up will be meeting at The Findery, a restored boutique close to the Magnolia Silos.
Dominique McShan is the assistant director of marketing, communications and events at Baylor Missions & Public Life. He said that he and his team were attempting to find ways to navigate the pandemic safely while still engaging Baylor students with the Waco community.
“One of our major aspects specifically in spiritual life and missions, specifically is our ‘Love Where You Live’ campaign,” McShan said. “That is typically the center for most of our engagement when it comes to our urban mission team.”
Unfortunately, McShan said this team within his department has been largely put on hold due to the conditions of both their outreach, which requires them to be out in the community, and the pandemic.
“However, we did still want to create a way for our students to be connected and engaged with the city of Waco, and one aspect of that is also just think about, ‘What is the art and the story behind the art of Waco?’” McShan said. “Often, the students just want to feel connected and be in community with one another.”
McShan is leading the tour of around 15 to 20 students. Sign-ups are limited to students only by RSVP so as to limit COVID-19 exposure.
McShan said that in preparation for this tour, organizations like the Solid Gold Neighbor program and Creative Waco have assisted in doing the background research and providing online guides for students to view either before they go on the tour, or if they aren’t able to make make it.
McShan said his overall goal for those in attendance on the tour will feel a sense of connectedness afterward.
“Hopefully next semester… students are already feel this sense of connectedness to the city to where they want to engage with the communities here, they want to serve and we really want to love our local community,” McShan said.
McShan said he would even recommend Baylor students whose passion is not art to consider attending the tour because the art is all local, and has the ability the stories of both the artists and the community.
“They’re all local artists, and that’s a very unique perspective and a story that’s connected and related to Waco, as we talk about like getting to know your neighbor. Getting to know Waco public art is a great way to do that,” he said.
Austin junior Carla Smryl, one of the students attending the tour led by McShan, said that as a studio art major she is thrilled to hear about the influence different artists in Waco have had on the community.
“I am really excited for the tour tomorrow. My roommate, Amy Rickabaugh, and I are looking forward to going on this tour and getting to hear more about the street art around Waco,” she said. “The murals that have been painted around the city in the last couple of decades really bring a new level of excitement and engagement to our downtown and Silo District.”
Masters candidate Toluwani Soares said that she too wanted to appreciate more of the Waco art, for both the beauty and the experience. She additionally said that she feels fortunate that this event is being put on for Baylor students.
“When I started math tutoring in the Waco area last year, I drove around the city so much more than I had before. While in transit to meet clients at their homes or at coffee shops, it became increasingly clear that Waco is rich in people and rich in experiences,” Soares said. “I saw murals that I would never have been exposed to if I stayed within my ‘Baylor bubble,’ and I fell in love the exhibits at Cultivate12 in Downtown Waco. I signed up for this tour because I want to appreciate and celebrate more art through someone else’s eyes.”
McShan said that he believes street art deserves just as much validation as any other art from due to its public access and casual and cost-free nature.
“A really big benefit of street art is it is publicly accessible so if you don’t have a dime to your name, you can go around Waco and experience these pieces,” McShan said.
Soares said the event is truly one of a kind and reveals the involvement with the Waco community.
“This is a gem of an opportunity, and it required nuance and strong community ties to make it a reality,” Soares said.