Graduate Hotel Mural Presents Depiction Of Unity And ‘Being Enough’
When you pass by the Graduate Hotel on South Atherton Street, it’s nearly impossible to miss the wall of shimmering colors that depict a blend of merging, symmetrical faces.
Together, these elements form William Snyder III’s most recent mural, “We Are All One,” and add more than a little color and inspiration to the otherwise bland State College walls.
“I love color and how it can impact someone walking by on a subconscious level,” Snyder said. “We don’t even know how color can change us or brighten us as we walk past. It can transform space.”
The mural’s title plays off Penn State’s iconic “We Are” chant while conveying an authentic and relevant message of unity to the State College community.
“This is kind of a dream opportunity for me to be a paid artist,” Snyder said. “Not many people have that opportunity.”
Snyder’s portfolio consists of many unique pieces including murals, portraits, sketches, and even large sculptures. A common thread in his work is the inclusion of bright colors.
For Snyder, inspiration stems from a wide variety of things: poems, friends, stories, music, and even issues occurring around the world. He relates his work to a puzzle — there’s always something new and unique to work on and being able to connect it all is a special experience.
“I’m not the kind of artist who just sits in the studio and paints the same kinds of things or draws the same kinds of things,” he said. “I generally respond to an opportunity with the fullness of what I can bring.”
Snyder earned a bachelor’s degree in integrative arts in 2003 and an MFA in 2006 from Penn State.
During his graduate school years, Snyder drew inspiration from his professor, Lonnie Graham. Graham’s mentorship and work with community engagement have inspired Snyder throughout his career. Snyder wrote a thesis on the Rwandan Genocide and helped fund the construction of a well in Rwanda.
Snyder and 20 volunteers, who Snyder said made the project possible, recently constructed “We Are All One” at a worksite in Bellefonte.
“It was quite a process; it was a great opportunity that the Graduate hotel gave me,” Snyder said. The hotel offered only one guideline: it wanted the mural to connect with the community in some way.
Snyder based “We Are All One” on the powerful idea of “being enough” in a comparison-heavy, social media-saturated society. Snyder also wanted to promote an authentic message of inclusion and diversity that boldly affirms: “We’re all enough. If you breathe, you’re enough”.
“This is probably one of the most authentic pieces that I’ve done,” Snyder said.
Snyder created a Facebook group searching for volunteers on October 11, production began mid-October, and the project is nearing completion this week. Snyder noted that the impending State College winter sped up the process considerably.
Snyder said he believes that, through meaningful artistic expression in public spaces, positive change can occur.
“Ultimately, I realized that everyone’s got a story, we’re all enough, and it seems very timely to reinforce and make another powerful piece about that,” he said. “I’m honored that I’m able to make it as big as it is, where it is, and I think it’s a real kind of statement piece and an iconic piece for this time.”
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