Black Students Community to unveil mural

Artist, community work together to bring art to space

Cole Cancilla considers himself the “visual translator” for the Black Students Community, which chose him to paint a mural in its community space.

Cancilla, a student in the school of art, said the group approached him in early September while working on renovations and asked if he could design and complete the mural within its short time frame, and after agreeing, he began his work.

The mural features mountains Cancilla based on those from Rwanda, and an image of the Nile River sits below the Black Students Community logo. An orange sun is set in front of a “striking yellow” sky, representing a new day.

A splash of water lifts up the logo of the Black Students Community, which Cancilla said represents the ripple effect of its legacy.

“It’s simplistic but it is also bold on its own,” he said.

The logo, designed by Dola Akintan, vice-president student engagement for the Black Students Community, depicts “two hands holding each other,” which represents the community’s strength when it comes together.

Akintan said the main idea behind the mural was to create something that “generations upon generations” of Black students at the U of M could contribute to.

The Black Students Community was built to create a safe space for Black students across campus to find a home away from home, Akintan said. The entire renovation process for the group’s space took more than a month, but Cancilla got the job done.

“We are so thankful for Cole for doing this on short notice,” said Akintan,“It was just so wonderful to see him just bring this to life.”

This mural is the student group’s way of starting fresh and turning the representation of its community into a physical display that everyone can look at.

Having a new community space has led to a “significant moment” for the community group, Akintan said. With this new mural, anyone can see, it’s “a new dawn, a new day for us,” she said.

The Black Students Community can be found in 187 Helen Glass and can be reached via Instagram @blackstudentsuofm or by the UMSU Black Student representative at