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Crafting a shared vision

  • Tia Richardson speaks about her work as a mural artist during a film screening event held in January at the College of Veterinary Medicine.

    Crafting a shared vision

    CVM partnering with mural artist Tia Richardson to create community artwork

    Tia Richardson speaks about her work as a mural artist during a film screening event held in January at the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Within the halls of the Veterinary Medical Center sits a canvas ready for its masterpiece. The canvas is a white wall and the painters will be members of the College of Veterinary Medicine community led by mural artist Tia Richardson

Transforming the space into an art piece will be a collaborative effort that CVM faculty, staff, and students are invited to participate in—from envisioning the mural to putting down paint—with the goal of creating art that captures CVM’s mission and the rich community of people who come together to work and learn under its guidance. 

“It's the humanities piece—it's bringing us back to: What is medicine?” says Elizabeth Martinez-Podolsky, CVM director of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). “It comes from inspiration, it comes from innovation, and it comes from the ability to create solutions and work together to create those solutions.”

Tia Richardson

Over the next few months, the College will host a series of events that invite community participation in the mural’s creation. The process will begin with two visioning sessions on April 9 from 9:30–11:30 a.m. and from 2–4 p.m., during which attendees are invited to share ideas and thoughts that could be incorporated into the mural. 

Richardson will weave elements of those discussions into a sketch that will be sent to College leadership and DEI representatives for review and feedback. Once a final design concept is approved, it will be revealed at a community event. 

Following the reveal, two painting days will be held to create the piece. Panels with the design outlined on them will be laid out for participants to fill in with assigned paint colors. Richardson emphasizes that anyone can help paint the panels—even if they don’t consider themselves artistic.  

“We often don't see ourselves as creative,” Richardson explains. “We don't see the raw, inherent creative potential that each human being has, but I believe every human mind is creative by nature. When you're problem-solving or when you're trying to think of how to make something better, that's creative.”

Once the panels have been painted, Richardson and her team will add finishing touches to refine the look of the piece. The panels will be assembled to create the mural, which will debut later this year. 

Richardson is no stranger to working with veterinary medicine communities on pieces. She’s collaborated with the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges to create murals reflecting veterinary medicine’s impact on the world and include themes of One Health and DEI.

A mural created by Tia Richardson for the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges.

Her work as a mural artist spans more than 60 pieces. In January, CVM hosted a film viewing during which Richardson showed “Rockford Taking Flight,” which details the artistic process for one of those pieces, a community mural created for Rockford, Ill. During the event, Richardson answered questions about the project and gave the audience insight into her passion for community art and the people it brings together. 

“There’s this idea of ‘I'm not an artist,’ but I want to extend the opportunity for anyone to experience what it's like to have that freedom and that joy that most artists take for granted,” she says.