“What happens a lot when we talk about issues affecting and impacting marginalized groups of people, those in the dominant culture tend to feel attacked, and that really shuts down conversations,” said Hernandez, a member of the Yankton-Sioux Tribe. “I wanted to talk about these issues in a way that’s disarming, and I think that’s where art plays a huge role. It abstracts language in a way where we can have these conversations without putting someone on the defense. I think that’s a really meaningful way to talk about these issues.”

Hernandez discussed a mural project she led that was completed in Vermillion this summer and how public art can help break down class and racial barriers.

“Public art matters because of how accessible it is. It doesn’t feel reserved for any person, race or class. It’s there for anyone to visit, for anyone to see,” said Hernandez. “Art is supposed to create these conversations to help us see one another and help us empathize and connect with one another on a really basic human level. That’s not going to happen if people don’t feel welcome in these spaces.”

Credit Hour is the University of South Dakota’s podcast highlighting the achievement, research and scholarship of its staff, students, alumni and faculty. Follow Credit Hour on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and www.usd.edu/podcast.

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