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Students create Phoenix mural to support Ukraine

Design students create central Phoenix mural to support Ukrainians under siege
April 26, 2022

A group of Arizona State University students painted a colorful mural in central Phoenix over the weekend supporting the people of Ukraine in their resistance to the Russian invasion.

The mural, on a wall on the east side of Seventh Avenue just north of Encanto Boulevard, is in the bright blue and yellow colors of Ukraine’s flag and includes the country’s symbol, the sunflower, and the words “Stand With Ukraine.”

Iryna Demianiuk, who is graduating with a master’s degree in architecture this semester, is from Ukraine and led the effort in her Subversive Design class in The Design School.

Several of her classmates, along with some members of the newly formed Ukrainian Association of ASU and a few volunteers, completed the mural over three weekends, finishing last Saturday.

“The Ukrainian Association of ASU started talking about how we could bring more awareness of Ukraine to the community in Phoenix,” she said.

“So I had this idea of engaging my classmates, and I’m happy they agreed to participate.”

Student painting mural on a wall

ASU student Iryna Demianiuk helps paint a "Stand with Ukraine" mural in central Phoenix on April 23. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News

The Ukrainian Association of ASU came up with some ideas for a mural, which includes an image of a Ukrainian farm tractor towing a Russian tank, and the class created a digital model. The students spent two weekends sketching the design on the wall in front of two homes on Seventh Avenue and then painted it in last Saturday. The two homeowners and the city of Phoenix gave their approvals.

“’Stand with Ukraine’ is the main tag that’s been around for years,” Demianiuk said. “The war has been happening in our country for eight years, since 2014, and not that many people know that unfortunately. Now more people are aware, but we still wanted to bring it more to light.”

Demianiuk visited family and friends in Ukraine over winter break. The start of the invasion in February was very difficult for her.

“There are no words to explain it. For the first months, it was terrible,” she said.

“Now we are kind of adjusting and finding our positions in this situation, and trying to help as much as we can.”

The Subversive Design class is taught by Danielle Foushée, an assistant professor in the Design School, director of the Subversive Creativity Lab at ASU and founder of the Phoenix Mural Project, a public art initiative.

“I started the Phoenix Mural Project in 2016 when I came to ASU because I have always been all about public art for my research and creative practice,” she said.

Foushée had just finished a 12,000-mile road trip to look at public art around the West. During that trip and after she moved to Phoenix, she noticed the many murals around the city.

“But there was no information or map. There was nothing. So I started taking photos. And then I had 400 photos that were geotagged,” she said.

So she created the online resource of a Google map of photos, that now include 700 murals. She also held mural festivals in 2018 and 2021, bringing together dozens of artists to create murals around the city.

The paint and supplies for the “Stand With Ukraine” mural came from the Phoenix Mural Project and donations, including Ace Hardware.

ASU's Subversive Design course looks at design practices through a social justice lens.

Clare Witt, a graduate student in visual communication, is in the class and was among the participants at the mural painting last weekend.

“We were talking about murals in the class and we wanted to find a topic that we were passionate about,” she said.

“And when (Demianiuk) came up with the idea, we were like, ‘Yes we want to support this and make an awesome mural at the same time.’”

"I am inspired every day by the dedication of our students, faculty and staff to make a better world through design," said Paola Sanguinetti, director of The Design School.

"Professor Danielle Foushée is actively engaged with our local communities and teaches all her classes through a lens of empathy. This mural is a wonderful example of how our faculty and students at The Design School use their voice to shed light on global issues that impact all of us," Sanguinetti said.

Demianiuk said she wanted the mural to be cheerful and not tragic.

“I really want to remind people about the strength of the Ukrainian people,” she said.

“We are united and strong in our effort of protecting freedom and justice, and that’s what makes me speak up and try to engage more people.”

After she graduates, Demianiuk hopes to work in the U.S. for a few years before returning to Ukraine.

“I know that I can do a lot there as an architect,” she said. “I can be a part of rebuilding our cities.”

DONATE: For those that are interested in donating, the students are raising money to assist in relocating Ukrainians.

More on Ukraine

Top photo: Students from the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, the Ukrainian Student Association and a few volunteers paint a “Stand with Ukraine” wall mural on Seventh Avenue, south of Thomas Road, in Phoenix on Saturday, April 23. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News


NFL podcast creator among first in ASU Local graduating class

April 26, 2022

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2022 graduates.

Randy Chavez is one of the first two students to graduate from ASU Local, Arizona State University’s new hybrid university experience, in Los Angeles. Randy stands smiling with arms crossed Communications major and NFL employee Randy Chavez is one of the first students to graduate from ASU Local–Los Angeles. Download Full Image

MORE: ASU Local celebrates a globetrotting community advocate among its 1st graduates

During his journey, Chavez initially pursued his physical therapy degree at a local community college. However, he took a leap to transition into a creative career, transferring to ASU to obtain his bachelor’s in communications from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications.  

“I remember dreading having to take a chemistry class for my physical therapy program,” Chavez said. “During that time, I was really into local radio and was craving doing something creative like a journalism role. I told my friend: ‘Hey, I will give this a try. I’m going to switch my major to communications and get a radio industry internship. If I don’t get a job at the end of the internship, I’ll go back to what I was doing.'” 

Chavez took the leap, even though he and his parents were a bit apprehensive about his financial future in a creative field as a first-generation Latino student. Fast forward, Chavez obtained an internship at a radio station which later turned into a job. Currently, he works producing podcasts for the National Football League (NFL). 

When asked what it means to be one of the first students to graduate from ASU Local, Chavez laughed and said, “It hasn’t fully hit me yet! I never thought I would be graduating from Arizona State University via a local program in Los Angeles. It makes me happy to be part of something new — I would even say revolutionary — because this could potentially be the future of education.

“ASU Local has given me a different, new, robust way of studying and obtaining my education to continue my career. To pursue what I like to do and still get the education that I wanted in my own backyard — L.A.” 

To help him fund his education, Chavez was awarded the ASU Local Scholarship, the ASU Local First 50 scholarship and the ASU Summer University Grant. Most ASU Local students qualify for merit-based or grant-based support. 

As we prepared to celebrate this year’s exciting graduation, our ASU Local team sat with Chavez to learn more about his unique experience with ASU Local.

Question: What’s something you learned while at ASU Local that surprised you or changed your perspective?

Answer: For me, the big lightbulb moment was how easy it was to speak to an ASU Local counselor. Coming from a relatively big community college, one had to set appointments to talk to a counselor, and it was a complicated process. The ASU Local counselor reached out quickly and scheduled a convenient time for us to talk. It was the first time I felt, within an educational institution, that I was not a number. I felt like I was part of a family, if you will, part of a group. 

Q: Why did you choose ASU Local?

A: I discovered ASU Local in an Instagram ad. I was trying to decide where to transfer, and I was torn between a couple of state schools or online programs. COVID-19 had just begun. ASU Local seemed to have their stuff together, and the program made the most sense: high-level education delivered conveniently. I obtained an excellent education, took great classes and did it on my own time. It was the most well-rounded option.

Q: Which professor or coach taught you the most important lesson at ASU Local?

A: Student success coach Stefan Kennerly has been my go-to person most of the time I’ve been in the program. He’s been the most vital to my success, checking up on me regularly and even helping me find housing — we have a Slack channel to help students find accommodations. Stefan taught me how to be successful in the program. It was also good to have someone to talk to — especially as an upperclassman since most students in the program are in their first and second year. Talking with Stefan helped me not feel alone. I could tell him how I was feeling about school, and he listed and validated my experience. 

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: Be forgiving and good to yourself. So often, we stress out about the silliest things. You have to accept that you’ll make mistakes. You will experience failure. There will be moments when you realize that what you’re doing isn’t suitable for you or isn’t something you enjoy. The most important thing you can do is to be supportive of yourself. Projecting negativity onto yourself isn’t going to help you. Instead, it will hinder your progress. Being forgiving and easy on yourself is the best thing you can do. 

Q: What was your favorite spot on your ASU Local site or your city, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: I’m a very low-key person. I like hanging out in one of the quiet study rooms in the Herald Examiner Building and being with my thoughts, compiling my notes, doing coursework, looking at my calendar and planning. Life feels pretty loud, especially in downtown L.A. and it’s even louder outside the city. Citywise, my favorite stop is anywhere that is spacious, mellow and has coffee. I like my coffee black, like a cold shower to get me going. Although I occasionally savor the opportunity to enjoy a specialty coffee, like a nice latte or a Cuban café.  

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: Producing podcasts for the NFL has been a great experience. I want to continue working in a creative field while discovering new opportunities. I’d also love to see other ASU Local fellows pursue creative careers and cross paths with them. L.A. is massive, and there is opportunity everywhere to intern and work.  

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: I would invest the funds in educating underprivileged people — especially children in Central America — about leveraging the internet technology and economy for their benefit. You can make money; you can find work and get an education off the internet. There is so much underrepresented communities can tap into if our communities begin to leverage nascent technologies — take coding, for example. Many people are unaware of the opportunities created by the growing need for tech roles. 

Anahi Mendez

Marketing and communications coordinator, ASU Local/Learning Enterprise