Students paint with artist to help build bridges

Hand painted artwork shows bridge with different hands sticking out from the top. Above hands are different religious symbols.

"My intention to paint this is to plant seeds of love, acceptance and building bridges in our hearts and in our kids hearts and in our heart"  - Ebtehal Badawi

Credit: Ebtehal Badawi

McKEESPORT, Pa. -- On Wednesday, Sept. 8, Penn State Greater Allegheny welcomed Pittsburgh-based artist Ebtehal Badawi. Badawi uses art as a way to build relationships across ethnicities, races and communities. During her visit to the McKeesport-based campus, Badawi discussed resiliency, passion, compassion and empathy. 

 "I love helping people, bringing them together," said Badawi. "I want to share my passion for building more bridges and having it create a ripple effect."

Since she first painted the “Pittsburgh Builds Bridges” piece, Badawi has invited her audiences to paint with her. "It only takes one brushstroke," said Badawi.  

Twenty students, faculty and staff members accepted her invitation to unite and connect through art. Together, they painted a collaborative piece that will hang in the Student Community Center. 

"It's an honor to talk to students because they are the future," said Badawi. 

Justin Dandoy, associate director of student affairs and host of the event, noted, "Our work with Ebtehal is something that started organically, and we hope this relationship continues to grow. She is extremely passionate and caring in her community work, as well as a remarkable artist. I knew that bringing her to Greater Allegheny in some way would be a great opportunity." 

Dandoy continued, "We started with just wanting to display her beautiful art, but after hearing her, her message of following your passions, finding healing in art, and building relationships and bridges in our community, especially locally, we knew that was a message we wanted to bring to our campus and share with our community." 

Badawi's messages of building bridges aligns with Greater Allegheny's signature program, the Crossing Bridges Summit. The summit positions the University to help bridge racial divides around the Mon Valley. This year the summit examines police reform: Conversations about the 'Pittsburgh Community Taskforce for Police Reform' and its implications for the Mon Valley. The first event of the year will be held on Thursday, Oct. 14. It will be broadcasted online via WPSU and focus on the Voices of Activists and Scholars. 

Penn State Greater Allegheny's mission is to inspire students to be greater by offering transformative educational experiences. The campus is a catalyst for individual and social change, committed to improving the community and the world around us.