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Purdue Students Try To Paint Post-inauguration Pain Away

Charlotte Tuggle

In a quiet, colorful room of the Latino Cultural Center Monday night, Purdue students tried to represent their feelings of suffering and hope under a new president -- with art.

“Your existence, basically, is a triumph of pain and anxiety and a lot of negative emotions," says Diòn Sanders, a junior in College of Liberal Arts, who identifies as a queer person of color. "And I feel like through painting, I just want to convey the fact that it’s scary out there, but I’m still out here.”

Tatiana Vukotic, a liaison to the Latino Cultural Center, says the activity was designed as a therapeutic tool.

“Art was chosen because it really allows for an individual to express their unique experience of lived meaning," Vukotic says. "So, there’s a lot of different therapeutic things that we could do in order to process different events.”

Also attending the event was Skye Kantola, the founder of Faerie Bear Art – a queer art project designed to combine art, socio-political movement building and education.

Kantola says art can be a successful way to process trauma and violence when words fail.

Event organizer Jessica Eise says after a divisive election, disenfranchised students needed a place for healing and self-care.

“It’s important to do that so you don’t respond with anger or with violence toward people who don’t agree with you," Eise says. "We need to be looking for shared goals, shared experiences.”

Kevin Ramirez, a graduate student in the College of Chemical Engineering, says he attended the event to express his tumultuous emotions.

Ramirez, who is Hispanic and receives spousal benefits through his husband, says the president’s comments pain him in multiple ways.

“One on end, he’s attacking my heritage and on the other, he’s attacking my orientation," Ramirez says. "It’s difficult for me, and I want to stay hopeful, and I need to stay hopeful about the future.”

Ramirez also attended the Women’s March on Washington last week, and says his goal now is to find the compassion and support that are available.