The Executive Editors and News Editors of The Olaf Messenger decided to dedicate this week’s news section to coverage of community reaction to the Israel-Hamas War. Our coverage’s aim is not to explain the Israel-Hamas War in detail, but to recount reactions and events in our community. Our objective is to provide unbiased reporting that accurately reflects thoughts and opinions of various members and organizations of our community, its also important to note that St. Olaf responses have predominantly supported Palestine. We acknowledge that there are many different perspectives on the conflict, as our community is made up of a diverse group of individuals. The Olaf Messenger extends our condolences to those who are directly affected by these recent events. Campus resources and information about bias reporting can be found here.
Photo: Maya Betti/The Olaf Messenger
The Quarry Literary and Fine Arts Magazine curated “The Voices Against Oppression” gallery to bolster the unheard voices of the St. Olaf community. The display immerses one in the strength of unity, the weight of history, and the power of art that comes to life in a conjoined effort to commemorate Palestinian culture, struggle, and aspirations.
As Curatorial Editor Jessenia Prado ’24 explains, the literary magazine typically only curates two galleries a year. However, as the conflict continued, people involved in the magazine realized something needed to change within their community. “When Fiko Insel ’24 and Andrew Mazariegos-Ovalle ’24 brought up the idea of doing the Voices Against Oppression display, all hands were on deck to bring this display to life in the matter of two weeks,” said Prado in an email interview with The Olaf Messenger.
Insel, Art Editor for The Quarry and an organizer of the exhibition saw the need within the community after noticing the lack of support for BIPOC students. “As St. Olaf is fairly diverse, there are many students like us on campus who are from Palestine, Lebanon, Armenia, and many other oppressed communities who have been crying for help for decades. As the Art Editor of the Quarry, I wanted to initiate an exhibition to bring voice to those who are marginalized,” said Insel in an email to The Olaf Messenger.
Prado agrees, noticing the lack of support students have. “There isn’t a dedicated place on campus for students to share their stance on global issues through art and literature,” Prado said in an email to The Olaf Messenger. Through the hallway display, she wants to ensure that advocacy against the violence occurring would “no longer be just a 24 hour Instagram story,” but instead something real and tangible for audiences to be confronted in their daily life.
Those participating in the gallery seem to share one value: the emotional impact of art. “When violent events like the one in Gaza happen [it] is hard to see how cruel it is because we are sheltered by privilege here,” said Laura Mongui ’24, a contributing artist for the event, in an email to The Olaf Messenger. When painting her artwork, titled “Bubbles,” Mongui said she embraced the feelings of discomfort and sadness in reaction to what was happening in Gaza.
While the goals of this display are grand, Insel understands that without a direct intervention such as this event, students would not have another opportunity to voice their experiences. “As the St. Olaf administration failed to support those who are hurt, start conversations in classes, or organize a protest, we as the student body have to take responsibility,” said Insel in an email to The Olaf Messenger. “It is up to us, as students, to raise the oppressed voice, be there for each other, and unite.”
Both Prado and Insel stress that this is not an event for the oppressed, but a way for all to sympathize. “I urge students to dedicate time out of their day to read every poem, and display, and look at each artwork in this display,” said Prado in an email to The Olaf Messenger. “Don’t just glance or walk by it. These students took a long time to express their feelings about Palestine’s struggle through art.”
The gallery will be displayed in the hallway between Buntrock Commons and Rolvaag Library from Nov. 6 to Nov. 11.
Andrew Mazariegos-Ovalle is an illustrator for The Olaf Messenger.