I arrived onto campus Thursday afternoon after the eight and a half hour flight from London. I'm not sure if I'm the only one, but I absolutely love long haul flights. It's the only time when you can completely relax and not feel obligated to be doing something, producing something, or in general just being a contributing part of society. No, I feel no need.
Instead, I receive the airplane refreshments with an open smile and fully recline my seat (to the dismay of the person behind me) and begin to catch up on the latest cinema releases.
However, I couldn't stop myself from wondering "how will it feel to be back at Davidson?" Would I feel like a stranger looking in? Would it feel like I'd never left? I was excited but also a bit nervous. Often time after being away from a place, a person or a thing we make it much more grandiose than it actually was or ever will be. I wondered, Would this be the case? Well, I wouldn't find out for another seven hours so no need to dwell on it now, my movie was about to begin.
I thought London has a quick pace, but there is nothing to compare to painting a mural on a pretty tight deadline. As soon as landed I was picked up at the airport and promptly I arrived on campus 30 minutes later. I dropped my things off at the Guest House (which is reason enough to come back to Davidson) where I was met by Tae-Sun, the Director of Multi-culturalism on campus. It was wonderful finally meet her in person as we'd planned the entire project via conference calls and emails. Tae-Sun joined Davidson's faculty two years ago in the inaugural position with the purpose of promoting diversity and inclusion on campus. I was quickly given an update on the preparation of the space and off we were towards the union.
The first thing you notice about North Carolina in the summer is the heat. The heavy heat that clings to your body as you move from one air-conditioned building to the next. Immediate sweating aside, as we walked the short four minutes from the Guest House to the Alvarez Union I couldn't help but let the biggest smile stretch across my face. I was home. Well, what I considered home for four years and somehow felt like I'd never left and that my time at Davidson lasted decades rather than four years. The campus in itself is striking - it looks like a university has be dropped in the middle of Regents Park in London.
After viewing the wall in the union where the mural would find its home and reviewing the final-updated-revised-altered design we discussed a few more changes and headed off to dinner after grabbing my catcard (to allow access to the necessary buildings).
The next day (Friday) Isabel, my assistant for the project who is a current student at Davidson, met me at the Guest House bright and early. I was keen to get started as quickly as possible since I knew I would have a few meetings throughout the day. Isabel is a sophomore (art and psychology major) who is beautiful both inside and out. We'd corresponded prior my arrival to discuss the project plan (yes, I created a project plan- to ensure we remained on track). She seemed as excited as I was to begin the project.
Our plan was simple, grid the wall in 2' x 2' areas, the drawing would be gridded to the same units, then transfer onto the wall with graphite. That simple plan took a lot longer than anticipated. But eventually we got there and began painting.
We soon realized that the combination of the paints (System 3 Acrylic), the brushes (natural hair) and the finish on the wall meant that it would require a minimum of two coats on the entire mural.
Throughout the day I met with our dean of students, Dean Shandley and Dean Jeffries to discuss the project and hopefully it's impact on student life and the face of the student union. It was so nice seeing them both and catching up on what I've been up to since graduation. That is one of the many benefits of attending a smaller university. I have no doubt that Dean Shandley and Jeffries would've been able to greet virtually any alum by the first name and welcome them back with the same warmth.
I also had a chance to introduce myself to the new president of the college, Carol Quillen who had taken the position after I'd graduated.
Afterwards, I was back to continue working on the painting. Isabel and I have decided to work on opposite ends of the mural as to avoid getting in each other's way. I'm excited to see how it comes along over the next couple of weeks.