By Lauren Holcomb | Reporter
A new mural titled “Ancestral Legacy” was unveiled Monday in the west wing basement of the Sid Richardson Building, or the Paul L. Foster Success Center. Painted by local artists Cade Kegerreis and Will Suarez, the unveiling was celebrated by Baylor community members, donors and family members.
A 2017 Baylor alumnus and Waco native, Kegerreis quickly jumped on the opportunity to work on this project. Kegerreis graduated with a degree in studio art, and he said he thought he “would have to go hundreds of miles away to make this a career.”
Before being approached about this mural, Kegerreis was studying human connections in history through language and culture, making this project the perfect fit for him.
“I really wanted to shake things up with the more conservative Waco mindset. We’ve always been kind of ‘the same way goes’ for a long time. I did always know that the people before me and my family were very accepting and tried to make a difference in a positive way,” Kegerreis said. “As soon as you get into representation and other people’s race, especially me as a white male, that’s you know, a line that’s usually tough to try to cross. We wanted to cross it in the most respectful way, to really push Baylor as a whole and hopefully get this representation beyond the basement.”
This work was commissioned by the Center for Academic Success and Engagement (CASE) as a way to embrace the diverse community of students, faculty and alumni that have come through or are currently a part of Baylor’s family.
Michelle Gonzalez, a CASE team member working with first generation students, worked closely with Kegerreis and Suarez to bring the CASE team’s vision to life.
“We just want to basically provide a space where students felt supported and loved unconditionally,” Gonzalez said. “[Where they are] welcome to bring their whole selves into our space and they knew that they were going to do that with that kind of support. It was easy to try to think about, how do we foster that? How do we make sure that by the time they get to our hallway, or to our office suite, on either side, that they knew that’s what they were going to be facing? We quickly settled on this presentation.”
Suarez could not make it to the unveiling presentation due to a family emergency, but Kegerreis spoke highly of their time and collaboration together. Once it was settled that they would be the sole artists on the project, the duo worked to brainstorm ideas and ways to represent every culture and background without excluding any groups.
“It’s best to really depict things in a way that wouldn’t necessarily identify specific people,” Kegerreis said. “Once we started digging in, we realized how similar a lot of patterns and symbols and colors are across every country, and we really just tried to dive in as much as we could without the chance of offending anyone.”
The overarching goal of the mural was to provide a feeling of inclusivity to every student at Baylor and to celebrate the diversity held in our community. Gonzalez said whether it’s a picture or statue or another mural, Baylor should take more steps like this to show support for the unity found in our differences.
“I’m so grateful to this and proud of this accomplishment because we know that there’s this phase here at the university where students can see themselves celebrated,” Gonzalez said. “They’re not diluted in who they are. They’re not being asked to conform to anything other than what they bring. My hope, and my challenge is that we are intentional about going back to all of our spaces at this university and saying, ‘how can we incorporate representation? How can we celebrate the diversity we see among our students?’”