Isabel Schreur `23
Murals & Mantra
Growing up in Baltimore City, environmental injustice was something I've always been aware of even if I didn't fully understand it. During the summer of 2021, I had the opportunity to design and implement a research project funded by the Anne Davis Research in Environmental Justice Grant. I decided to look closely at the history of environmental racism and injustice in Baltimore but through a unique lens. Art has something that I have always been passionate about, whether that be creating or appreciation. I believe art to be critically important to human society and its way of representing the human experience in a way that makes one think harder and more creatively. So when it came to my research project, it felt natural to incorporate an art historical lens when researching environmental justice within Baltimore. What I found was beautiful. Low-income communities of color neighborhoods in Baltimore are massively disenfranchised. Infrastructure is crumbling at a terrifying rate, waste management is not regulated or funded, and these neighborhoods exist in heat islands with limited access to green space. In these communities, art and public art has become a survival tactic. Public murals line these neighborhoods, spurring conversation and in some cases grassroots movements working for policy change and higher quality of life.
In the place I grew up and love so deeply, I found resilience through art in the face of complex and oppressive environmental injustices. I finished my research with a formal paper (in the process of being published) and a story map website for the public to access and see my research in a more creative light.
In a fast-paced, stress-inducing environment that is a college campus, it was important for me to find a place and community that would allow for relaxation and introspection to my wellbeing. That place was the Wellness Center, and more specifically, Yoga. I grew up practicing yoga but became obsessed in college. It was the place that rewarded me instantly and made me grateful for how much I was accomplishing within my college career. I applied and participated in the Shanti Guarudasana Yoga Teacher Training here at The College. Through my training, I found a way to passionately give back to my community by allowing other students, through my classes, to have that chance of introspection and release of the stress in their lives. In Yoga, "Prana," or Breath, is your life force and the key part of any good yoga practice. So, if you are ever able to take my class, I spend at least 5 minutes just focusing on our breath, our life force. This allows people to notice their bodies and be grateful for life, knowing that no matter how much pressure they feel in college, their breath is always there to spur energy and life.