In times of loss, there’s no one way to grieve. Following the unexpected passing of Adriana Santiago ‘21, several of her classmates gathered together to honor her memory through artistic expression. Adriana was a member of ‘Creative Transformations’, the Denison seminar course that traveled for a week to Havana, Cuba this past spring break. Denison seminars are interdisciplinary courses offered to sophomores and juniors at the university, typically taught by two professors from different disciplines and including an element of travel.

Due to the immersive nature of seminar classes, and the unique experience of traveling together to a different country in addition to sharing time in class, many students belonging to the course were affected deeply by her death. Meeting this past week, memories were shared of the week of music, laughter, bright color, sunshine, and good food. Given that the class was an exploration of how creative expression can be used to transform people and places, many students were interested in finding a tangible way to honor their recently departed friend.

On Tuesday, Brendan Murphy ‘20, a BFA Studio Art major from Columbus, came up with the idea of repainting the campus graffiti wall, located behind the Bryant Arts Center, in the spirit of Adriana’s memory and time spent together in Cuba. “I wanted to provide a space for our class to process and remember and be thankful for who Adriana was. I wanted to offer an opportunity for us to be together taking ownership over our own grief. One workshop some members of the class, including Adriana, had attended was Proyecto Cultural Muraleando, an immersive art collective that included colorful murals throughout the space.

Gathering together to celebrate and appreciate Adriana Santiago through art, creating a mural here in Ohio on our own campus was a way for several students from different walks of life to find solidarity and support in a time of sadness.