What brings us together as people, as a community? How can we express our common ground through art?
These questions were the focus of Nicaraguan artist Marlon Moreno’s week on Marymount University’s campus in October as artist-in-residence.
This was the artist’s second visit to Marymount. In March 2011, he worked with students to create an intricate sand painting of the Blessed Virgin on a campus sidewalk and a mural that reflected the diverse heritages of MU students.
On this visit, Moreno talked with classes about his artwork and shared songs and stories from his homeland. He also listened as students talked about their own varied backgrounds and the values that unite them. Together, they then created a painting that symbolizes Marymount’s Common Ground initiative and the shared commitment to intellectual curiosity, service to others, and a global perspective.
Back home in Nicaragua, Marlon Moreno helped start an art school in León, Nicararagua’s second largest city, called Taller Artístico Xuchialt
. During this recent visit to MU, he spoke about that school, saying, "We share the same values that Marymount instills. Those values are related to helping our community; we also teach cultural values, so students feel they are part of a society that's broad, with a global outlook. We all need each other, can help each other, and all of us are in this world together. This is our common ground. “
It was Marymount junior Kathryn Fossaceca, a Biology major from Gettysburg, PA, who helped bring Moreno to campus. She had traveled to León, Gettysburg’s sister city, as a high school student to volunteer. A testament to the transformative effect of international travel, she says, “I was one person before I traveled to Nicaragua, and an entirely different person after.”
When she learned that Moreno was seeking donations to keep the Xuchialt art school going, she worked with Aline Orfali, Marymount’s director of International Student Services, to bring Moreno to Marymount in 2011 and again this fall. Half of the funds raised at last year’s International Banquet went to Xuchialt.