Artists: Ley Fraser, Karen Flores, Maria Harraway
The group of young women agree, it is extraordinary how far you have to travel to become yourself. In fact, they are a testament to this. It hasn’t always been easy for them. And yet, they are here. Creating, laughing, talking quietly together. And their conversation travels far too.
They have the word, extraordinary but they have drawn it so large it would take two pieces of glass to hold it: “It’s way too big” they say, worried how to make it fit. We promise Annie’s miraculous powers with the photocopier, she promises them it will fit. The fact that being different, being extraordinary often means being forced into boxes too small for you strikes everyone.
Their images are strong and powerful. One of the young women insists she is only doodling but she has created the most amazing flower. “The petals are hearts;” she tells us, “except the heart part is hidden underneath each new petal. As more and more hearts come together, the flower blooms and grows and keeps on growing without end.” I think of how often we bury our hearts under layers of sadness and pain, yet the power of the human heart is unending too, to heal and grow strong when nurtured.
Everyone in the group wants that flower to float over the geometric shapes in the design. The geometric shapes represent science – the hard lines and angles that knowledge can be. Some of the geometric shapes look like a mosaic, showing how even the broken can come back together and become something of beauty holding something of the broken past but projecting a new and also beautiful future.
Throughout the design are secret messages that are embedded in the beauty of nature, in the depths of knowledge that call on you to be extraordinary. All of these shapes and patterns, curves and lines, science and art, symbolize the journey from ordinary to extraordinary.
The group decides the word extraordinary will be under the images. “I like it that people will have to look to find the word, look through everything that is on top.” That seems to reflect reality too; how often do we overlook the extraordinary because we can’t see past the surfaces that stigmatize or exclude. “You have to seek it; it is often obscured and disregarded.”
The beauty of nature that surrounds the university, the fact the university actually exists now in the midst of all this wild nature bringing education to the edge, is an extraordinary accomplishment. But what strikes me, as I watch and listen to these young women as they focus and work so easily together, is how blessed we are to have the extraordinary hope and vision our youth bring to the world.