“Strong in Da Struggle” creates buzz

Envisioned by Coren Cooper ’04, the new Motley mural, “Strong in da Struggle,” provokes campus comments.

“The overall theme is resistance,” says Coren.”However, the mural was meant to be aesthetically beautiful and empowering regardless of whether every student sees herself in the struggle of resistance.”

According to Coren, the pyramid represents Ancient Egypt, where the strength and power to fight and resist originated for people of color who were oppressed globally.

“All the background images…are meant to invoke a sense that history leads to what we know now—hip hop,” explains Coren.”The images about hip-hop culture are in the foreground because the struggles of the past in the background of the mural allowed for the creation of the hip-hop movement.”

Each woman in the foreground and in “center stage” is meant to point out that though women are marginalized in the male-dominated hip-hop community, they can still find empowerment through pop-locking (a form of break dancing), spinning records, and MC-ing.”Women are highlighted in the front because the women of Scripps and the Motley are seeking empowerment, just as the women in the mural [are doing] within the hip-hop community,” added Coren.

The mural was created as part of the “For Life! For Liberation!” conference that Coren created and produced. In late 2003, Coren applied for a Mellon Foundation Grant to help fund a three-day speakers series that examined the aesthetic, political, and economic relationships that link the Black Aesthetics/Black Arts Movements of the 60s and 70s to the aesthetic, political, economic, and cultural art productions of the current hip-hop era.

Three local artists visually constructed Coren’s ideas.