The brush strokes of reconciliation

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Early this year, Erin Saul ’11 traveled across the Atlantic to work at a peace and reconciliation center in Northern Ireland. Much of her time was spent working with the people of Ireland, but in the quiet moments, she found herself looking at murals—a lot.

These political depictions—more than 2,000 of them, painted on the sides of homes and businesses and barns—have become symbols of a divisive and often violent history known as “The Troubles.” Whether they memorialize those lost to the fighting, or glorify paramilitary groups like the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), the murals most often promote either republican or loyalist political beliefs.

Since her return to Denison, Saul, a political science major from Cincinnati, has continued to reflect on the murals and their place in Northern Ireland’s present-day society. In an interesting twist, she is pairing her studio art background and her personal experiences to supplement her undergraduate research.

Editor’s note: Saul’s semester in Ireland was sponsored by the Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs and arranged by Denison’s Office of Off-Campus Study.

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