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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Higher education

‘Science, healing and art’: Gonzaga staff, students paint mural of native healing plants in Logan neighborhood

Briana Dowling, a junior at Gonzaga, paints atop a ladder as her friend and roommate Sidney Goranson, a senior, stabilizes her.  (Maggie Quinlan)
Briana Dowling, a junior at Gonzaga, paints atop a ladder as her friend and roommate Sidney Goranson, a senior, stabilizes her. (Maggie Quinlan)

The mural taking shape on the brick-red wall of Global Neighborhood Thrift on Trent Avenue has been months, if not years, in the making, said Laura Truitt, a professor of art at Gonzaga University.

The Logan Neighborhood Council reached out to Gonzaga with the idea. At least 30 students created ideas for the mural and when Truitt’s class had narrowed it down to three, neighbors voted to choose the final design.

The piece, when complete, will feature five Native healing plants, said Lena Lopez Schindler, also a professor of art at Gonzaga. The art professors were inspired by another student project planting Native flora that was led by Spokane tribal member and program manager Marsha Wynecoop and Wendy Thompson, a tribal liaison for Gonzaga.

Gonzaga’s new medical building coming up across the street diagonally will also have a Native plant theme, Lopez Schindler said, and it will include art installations and screens showing videos of Spokane tribal elders discussing the plants.

“It’s this real effort of having people understand the environment they live in, but also the history,” Lopez Schindler said. “It’s a wonderful combination of science, healing and art.”

The mural painting began Thursday and by Saturday – 10 gallons of paint later – the spray-painted outlines of ponderosa pines, purple-flowered bitterroot, yarrow with white blossoms, yellow-flowered arrowleaf balsomroot and blue camas flowers were transforming to colored massive wildflowers.

For Gonzaga junior Briana Dowling, studying psychology and elementary education, the mural is a bridge to more community engagement.

“I think it makes the community feel a little more involved in their space,” Dowling said.

Dowling tagged along with her roommate, senior biology major Sidney Goranson, who learned about the mural through her painting class.

“It beautifies the community,” Goranson said. “I was driving home yesterday and already I was like, ‘Wow, what a difference from a big blank wall.’ ”

Lopez Schindler predicts the neighborhood will become a big hub, as improvements to a walking area near the river and new construction seem promising.

“It’s exhilarating, frankly,” she said.

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