MURALS to paint colorful picture of student passions

student and artwork

Nicholas Pepping will present “How to Dye” during MURALS, March 31. 

Sophomore Nicholas Pepping’s fingertips are often flecked with colors like red, blue and green. It’s from the hours he spends in the Visual Arts Building’s fabrics studio, where he experiments with hand-dyed silks, cottons and organzas.

A visual arts major specializing in fibers and printmaking, Pepping will join more than 70 fellow students showcasing his work during MURALS – Multicultural Undergraduate Research Art and Leadership Symposium, March 31. MURALS is an annual, all-day event that intentionally reaches out to students of color and exposes them to a variety of undergraduate research and presentation opportunities.

“MURALS is a showcase of passion, talent and knowledge, displayed through posters and oral presentations across a variety of disciplines, as a result of opportunity, mentoring, networking and investment in students,” says Bridgette Johnson, director of the Black/African American Cultural Center.

From STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) to social science, MURALS presentations offer a wide variety of subject matter. From the STEM category, for example, Jordon Aragon, a student in microbiology, immunology and pathology, will present research on cytokines and their relationship with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, or lung scarring.

How to dye

During MURALS, Pepping will share a demonstration on how to dye protein, plant or synthetic fibers using three main types of dye: natural, fiber-reactive, and acid.

When he arrived at CSU, Pepping had considered himself a sculptor specializing in bronze casting, but an Introduction to Fiber Arts class got him hooked on fabrics. Fiber arts can involve loom work, embroidery, printmaking and many other applications.

“I enjoy the use of color to create abstract concepts,” Pepping said. What’s more, he hopes to communicate his fascination with the ancient art of dyeing fabrics, the results of which we all take for granted.

“From the clothes you wear, to the tablecloth you’re not allowed to touch, dye is an amazing thing that we as people don’t think about,” Pepping says.

Dismantling pit bull stereotypes

For Michelle Mendoza, MURALS is a chance to share her passion for debunking stereotypes around dogs she holds dear: pit bulls.

Michelle mendoza

Michelle Mendoza will present a proposed research project examining stereotypes associated with pit bulls. 

“Pit bulls,” Mendoza writes in her abstract, is an umbrella term used to describe the American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, and any mix thereof. It is a group of dogs with negative associations that may be unwarranted.

“These stereotypes are not based in fact,” Mendoza says. “It is difficult to argue with facts and empirical data.”

Nearly 40 percent of dogs housed in shelters across the U.S. are pit bulls, and some jurisdictions do not allow people to own them. A pit bull owner herself, Mendoza is conducting a literature review and a modified version of the American Temperament Test Society’s evaluation exam, which is used to determine the behavior and personality of dogs.

Her own evaluation, from data collected at a local shelter, will involve three active-breed dogs: the American Pit Bull Terrier, the boxer, and the beagle.

Through her research, Mendoza hopes to dismantle negative associations of pit bulls as dangerous dogs, a stereotype that is explained in part by the animal’s history in American society. Mendoza wants to approach her evaluation from a scientific perspective, collecting impartial data and applying universally accepted standards of dog behavior assessment.

A native of New York, Mendoza is a junior animal science/zoology major who dreams of becoming a veterinarian.

Come to MURALS

Watch Pepping, Mendoza and many other undergraduates present in areas ranging from physical sciences and social sciences to the visual arts at MURALS, March 31, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. in the Lory Student Center Ballroom A. CSU faculty and graduate students will judge the presentations, and the awards ceremony will take place at 5 p.m.