Diversity, Collaboration, and Inclusion Virtual Art Gallery

Students from the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences recently participated in an art competition focused on building Zion at BYU through diversity and inclusion. These pieces, done in a variety of mediums, communicate the students’ feelings on fostering a loving environment where all feel welcome.

During February, the library will host a physical gallery of the artwork in the Atrium Gallery. All are welcome to visit. We also compiled the art into a virtual gallery for everyone to enjoy.

(Photos by Alyssa Dahneke of BYU photo)

1st Place: Let Zion in Her Beauty Rise

Kathryn Ogden

“My piece depicts a gathering of priesthood holders for the naming and blessing of a newborn girl. Each priesthood holder is meant to represent a different community, society, or culture. For some of these figures I had a personal, real-life inspiration to guide me in my creation. My daughter was the original inspiration for this chalk design. She inspires me daily to recognize the good around me and try new things as she does the same. While my daughter is caucasian, I wanted to depict the little girl in this artwork as ethically ambiguous as I could. I want her to symbolize the future generations that have the opportunity to be a part of Zion by creating unity and spreading love to everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or anything else that differentiates people.”

2nd Place: Character, Attributes, and Faithfulness

Alina Vanderwood

“Elder D. Todd Christofferson said, ‘Zion is Zion because of the character, attributes, and faithfulness of her citizens.’ My piece is a black and white landscape of BYU campus, just outside of the Harold B. Lee Library, populated by colorful silhouettes of students that leave trails of color along their way. This is meant to portray that the character, attributes, and faithfulness of each person is unique and as they interact with and uplift each other, the colors blend together to make a new, more beautiful atmosphere that will lay a positive foundation for those who follow them.”

3rd Place: Your Fight is My Fight

Nicholas Rex

“I was inspired by the many diverse people at the Black Lives Matter protests. It seemed to me that all the people there understood why they were there. They wrote what they believed on their cardboard signs and marched. They knew in their heart why Black Lives Matter, and were fighting for them. I believed Black Lives Matter but did not know why, and did not understand my place in all of this. I did not know what my core message of support for the Black Lives Matter movement was, but as I looked around I found my message in everybody else’s message: Your fight is my fight.”

Dean’s Honorable Mention: Oh How We Need Each Other

Kayla Beck Nuss

“With the news of George Floyd and other POC victims coming into many people’s conversations from this past summer, I was inspired to create this piece. This painting is supposed to reflect the courage and strength of the people who have spoken out and shared their experiences with underlying racism that still exists in our world today. We need them. We need each other to support and uplift.”

Honorable Mention: Zion Under Her Nails

Madison Siebers

“I was inspired by our community’s need for racial diversity to create Zion. When I was a freshman, a professor once talked about living our lives like we “had Zion under our fingernails.” It has been a motto for me as I’ve made life decisions—I want to be on my knees, elbow-deep in the work.”

Honorable Mention: Garden

Leslie Neville

“I have always viewed flowers as a symbol of beauty and growth. In my artwork, I attempted to convey the beauty that can come from joining hands with individuals of all cultures, ethnicities, and backgrounds. Each hand has something unique to contribute that adds to the colorful garden of flowers.”

Honorable Mention: A Day in the Life

Carrie Nelson

“This was taken in a tiny town outside of Mexico City. I remember seeing this man going about his day, most likely doing his work to provide for his family and thinking, ‘Wow, he does this everyday?’ I immediately was overcome with so much respect for him.”

Honorable Mention: Grafting

Eden Smith

“This painting is inspired by the parable of the tame and wild olive trees in Jacob Chapter 5, in which the Lord of the vineyard saves his dying olive trees by crafting in wild branches. In our society today, “grafting” means sharing diverse opinions, ideas, and talents to strengthen those around us and foster inclusion, mutual understanding, and faith.

Honorable Mention: Their Trauma Remains

Lindsey Meza

“I wanted to depict the intergenerational trauma of black women. Enslaved black women went through intense physical, sexual, and emotional trauma. That trauma did not die when they did—it passed to their posterity. I wanted to paint something that depicted that chain. Even though it wasn’t the present woman’s personal trauma, it’s still hers—passed to her by their ancestors.”

Honorable Mention

Claire Felsted

“I want it to represent all kinds of people with no real distinction because in the end, whatever it is of the many things that make us different, we are all children of God and can be united in love if we choose to be. Red and white roses often symbolize unity, and the color blue is also expressive of unity, so I made sure to incorporate them into my piece. I also added intertwined ropes for the same symbolism. We are all part of this world and the community of humanity. May we treat each other with respect is my hope.”

Honorable Mention: My Brother

Sage Smith

Honorable Mention:

Forecasting a Conversation and Seeing Only Storms Ahead, for the Past Has Given Little Reason to Expect Otherwise

Preston Makoto Hunter

Look to the Son

Hannah Stadler

As I thought about what Zion meant to me, I realized that Zion is really another word to describe Jesus Christ. The person who created us so individually clearly not only appreciates diversity but needs it in this world. So vice versa, diversity is necessary to build a Zion community. I wanted to show how different cultures and people all over the world are all united through Christ.

Natalie Frenfell

Despite our differences, as we come together with others in our communities and throughout the world, we will discover a greater whole in store. Growing to accept people regardless of culture, origin, and background will enable us to purify our hearts and create a greater Zion community.

Do Unto Others

Casey Geslison

“I wanted to create a modern icon showing the divine nature of Black women. Basing her pose on traditional Orthodox icons, I hoped to convey a sense of dignity and strength, as well as a spiritual power I’ve felt from BIPOC friends. I hope we can all become the disciples Christ needs us to be by actively pursuing anti-racist actions and narratives and doing unto others as we would have done to us!”

Earth Tones

Faith Williams

“I recently had the realization that every skin tone that exists across the planet earth can be found in the many colors of dirt, sand, and rock across this same planet, our home. It feels beautiful to me that something so natural as the color of our skin—no matter the color—is represented in the earth. After all, what could be more natural than the substance upon which we stand, walk, and exist?”

A Change of Heart

Joseph Chu

“This piece is inspired by the concept of having a changed heart because of the influence of God. when we are truly touched by God and changed, we see others with more charity, and we have a desire to help them no matter the differences we may have with each other. Our perspective towards people becomes more Christlike. To me, the importance of diversity is that it offers us a chance to apply the concept of charity in a variety of different ways, because each person that we encounter is so unique.”

Broken Hands United

Emily Schwartz

“If we are to have the unity of a Zion community, we need to put in a concerted effort to address the pains of the past. It is critical to realize that we can’t keep using bandaids to conceal the centuries of hurt that have been inflicted by racism. In recognizing that truth, we can begin to work towards a brighter future as we stitch together our broken hearts and hands in unity.”

Unique Rules and Important Contributions

Kellie Haddon

Visit the exhibit this month in the HBLL Atrium Gallery and visit the BYUnity website for more information on the college’s Diversity, Collaboration, and Inclusion initiatives.

Diversity, Collaboration, & Inclusion Art Contest

The College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences’ Diversity, Collaboration, and Inclusion Committee is sponsoring an art contest as part of their campaign to nurture a Zion community, one that is based on unity, respect, and charity towards all, at BYU. They hope that this call for art submissions will inspire students to reflect on what it means to be a disciple of Christ and stand up for social injustice.

The theme for this year is Building a Diverse Community Today for a Zion Community Tomorrow. Students are encouraged to internalize this message and create something that accurately shares what that message means to them. 

This call is open for submissions beginning November 30th and will close January 11th, 2021. Students may create submissions in any medium they desire, as long as the following criteria are met:

*Student must be a Family, Home, and Social Sciences Major

*The entry may be any medium, but must be smaller than 2’ x 3’

*Student must agree that if chosen, their work will be donated to the college of FHSS

*Student must fill out the accompanying form (see bottom) to be considered

*Only one entry per student

Entries will be judged by a panel of DCI committee members and staff representatives based on aesthetic merit and how well the piece reflects the prompt. Winners will be chosen and will be awarded as follows:

1st Place: $300

2nd Place: $200

3rd Place: $100

Honorable Mention: $50

All students are encouraged to participate in this wonderful opportunity to reflect on the idea of fostering a Zion community at BYU. Submitted works will be displayed at the College, replacing artwork previously hung, as a way to demonstrate our commitment to upholding principles of diversity and inclusion. All artwork will be displayed/showcased throughout Black History Month.

For any questions, please contact Lita Little Giddins.


All submissions due by January 11th, 2021.

Follow this link to the official site: https://fhss.byu.edu/diversity-collaboration-and-inclusion-art-contest

Submission form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfl1hFlA3Ls18cGMHoJD08VJMOZImc-VZXDv0CKvs2BmWxKSQ/viewform

More Than a Theater: How The Olivos Family Created a Safe Place for Mexican Americans

The Yost Theater (El Cine Yost) circa the late 1960s. (Photograph courtesy of the Olivos family)

When we think of movie theaters today, we think of buttery popcorn, comfy seats, and the newest Marvel movie. But in the early-to-mid 1900s, El Cine Yost, one of the first Spanish-language movie theaters in Orange County, California, was more than a place of entertainment for the Latino population in southern California. It was also a safe place for Mexican Americans to feel proud of their ethnic heritage. During the early-to-mid-twentieth century when schools, neighborhoods, and parks were segregated throughout Orange County, Latinos could enter the theater and feel a sense of community.

Dr. David- James Gonzales, Assistant Professor of History at BYU, researched the theater for his article “El Cine Yost and the Power of Place for Mexican Migrants in Orange County, California, 1930–1990,” which will appear in the Journal of American Ethnic History in July 2020. He interviewed several members of the community, including members of the Olivos family, who were responsible for bringing Spanish-language cinema to Orange County, to learn more about how the theater impacted their lives and provided a safe place during a time of intense racial discrimination.

Gonzales reflected on his research, sharing the insight that we need to create safe places in our communities today for people of all ethnicities to feel accepted. These spaces may not always be physical like El Cine Yost, but we can do this as we focus on understanding the lived experiences of others. “We can ask them about their culture, set aside our limited understanding, and listen,” Gonzales said. He encourages us to talk to people of different backgrounds and “have them to teach us their story.”

Louis and Phoebe Olivos circa 1945 shortly after Louis returned from serving as a B-17 gunner in World War II.

That’s exactly what Gonzales did when he met with the son of Louis Sr. and Phoebe Olivos, the couple who ran the famous El Cine Yost from 1952 to 1985, as well as two other theaters, The Princes and State, from 1939 to the early 1990s.

Louis Olivos, Jr. revealed that his father could frequently be found at the movie theaters in Santa Ana during his youth. Even though he was forced to sit in segregated sections because “Mexicans” were not allowed to sit alongside whites, this did not diminish his passion for cinema.

Louis Olivos Sr. was a frequent patron of the Princess Theater in the 1930s. He noticed ushers assigned to the “Mexican” section seemed afraid to go up to the balcony. Louis approached the manager suggesting he supervise the balcony section and was soon hired as an usher. Later on, Louis was able to convince the owner, to screen Spanish-language films weekly, which kept the struggling theater in business. Because of the great success of Spanish films, Louis was eventually promoted to manager and soon after took over the lease. When Louis left to serve in the army during World War II, his wife Phoebe was left to manage the theater. After returning home from the war, Louis leased the Princess and State theaters and later purchased the historic Yost Theater, his childhood dream.

Legendary actor Mario Almada (considered the Clint Eastwood of Mexican cinema) signs autographs for adoring fans at el cine.

 “El Cine Yost and the Olivos family brought ethnic Mexicans together physically and culturally, helping them to build bonds of ethnic solidarity despite differences in citizenship, class, and nationality,” said Gonzales. Mexican Americans would come from all over Orange County to meet and socialize. By screening Spanish-language films, Louis brought Mexico’s top actors and recording artists to Santa Ana. He provided audiences with a positive image of Mexican history, people, and culture.

A packed house at El Cine Yost. Louis Olivos, Jr., estimated that the Yost averaged one thousand patrons each weekend. (Photographs courtesy of the Olivos family)

Louis’s journey from patron to owner was a great inspiration to members of his community where his family became model citizens as they achieved their American dream. They treated all patrons as if they were family. Sadly, after thirty-three years of owning and operating El Cine Yost, the Olivos family was forced to sell their theater to the city of Santa Ana in 1985.

Gonzales said, “El Cine Yost provided a physical gathering place for people all over the community, where they could build relationships, they could meet people, and enjoy film together.”

Gonzales shared the many opportunities to learn about ethnic Mexican history at BYU, including the Latino Civil Rights Seminar. Dean Benjamin Ogles and a team of BYU professors in The College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences proposed the seminar in the summer of 2018. Last fall, Professor Gonzales and Professor Bryant Jensen led the first seminar with BYU students, traveling to Texas to meet with civil rights leaders and activists, including the mother of Julian Castro. Professor Gonzales and Professor Jane Lopez plan to lead the seminar in fall 2020 and hope to visit important Mexican American and Latino historical sites in Southern California, but the trip may be postponed due to COVID-19.

There are several courses available at BYU to learn more about Latino civil rights. Gonzales said, “Dr. Jane Lopez teaches the Sociology of Immigration, Dr. Jacob Rugh teaches Sociology of Race & Ethnicity, and Latinos in the United States, which has been taught by Dr. Ignacio Garcia over the past two decades, will be taught by myself in winter 2021.”

Gonzales is also the faculty advisor for “Hispanos Unidos” an official club for both BYU students of Hispanic/Latin origin and anyone who desires to learn and celebrate Hispanic/Latino culture. The club’s goal is to “create a safe space to express our Latinidad and provide students with resources to feel included and involved inside of BYU.”

Whether through establishing a theater, supporting a club, taking a class, or listening respectively to the lived experience others, creating safe places in our communities for people of all ethnicities to feel accepted is important and worthwhile.

All Are Free to Breathe

As George Floyd died at the hands of law enforcement officers he cried out, “I can’t breathe.” Those desperate final words now echo in the mouths of the American people as protests erupt across the nation. 

His is yet another name added to a growing list of victims of police brutality against blacks, and with every name the outcry for change and justice grows louder. Lita Giddins, the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences’ (FHSS) Diversity, Collaboration, and Inclusion Coordinator says, “The question on the minds of everyone…is ‘How long until we are free from this issue?’  Protestors against racism are no longer asking the question.  Their unified response is, ‘Now.’”

One of the voices speaking up belongs to Taylor Munlin, a FHSS student. Munlin is an executive director with BYUSA, a member of the Black Student Union, and a member of the FHSS Diversity, Collaboration, and Inclusion Committee. She says that the primary goal of this committee is to create a culture of Zion in the college and at BYU.

We are commanded in the scriptures to “keep my commandments and seek to bring forth and establish the cause of Zion” (Doctrine and Covenants 6:6). Zion is the place where all of God’s children are treated with an equal fullness of love and respect, where the arbitrary distinctions of social categories are stripped, and each can be appreciated for their unique identity as a son or daughter of God. The Book of Mormon promises “blessed are they who shall seek to bring forth my Zion at that day” (1 Nephi 13:37). 

But how? Repeating tired platitudes of unity and love on social media, while perhaps well-intended, does little by itself to solve issues at the fundamental level. 

Giddins comments, “The question I continue to ask myself is ‘What is preventing Zion, the ‘pure in heart,’ from being established?’  Purity or clarity of vision to increase self-awareness as we ask ourselves, ‘What lack I yet?’ is key (Matthew 19:20).” She goes on to say “Lowering our defenses to acknowledge the truth of what we see is greatly needed.  Accepting with courage the need to rethink historic mindsets in order to care and act differently to eradicate the deadly pandemic of specific community members being ‘acted upon’ is essential.”

Munlin says that Zion cannot be established until the injustices against the black community are addressed and remedied. Individual instances of injustice are simply manifestations of a larger societal illness. 

While most Americans have an understanding of racism from slavery through the civil rights movement, the story doesn’t just end there. The issue, Munlin explains, is that “we are taught that systemic discrimination ended with the successes of the civil rights movement in the sixties,” when in fact those systems were simply altered and replaced. She says that though laws do not specifically target individuals based on race, certain laws, institutions, and practices have a disproportionate effect on the black community. According to Munlin, these include, but are not limited to education, housing, healthcare, criminal sentencing, and incarceration.  

Even at BYU, where the administration seeks to create an environment of equality and tolerance, there are still obstacles to overcome. Munlin explained how the BYU rule requiring a full-time faculty sponsor for clubs makes it difficult for organizations like the Black Student Union to find that required sponsor support. This would be easier if the sponsorship rule could be extended to part time or ¾ time employees as well. 

Forms of racism are also present within strains of the campus culture. Even well-intentioned individuals are prone to make insensitive remarks or dismiss the lived experience of others. 

“What if I told you ‘you’re really smart for a blonde’,” Munlin asked. “Those are the kinds of comments that people make here that are meant to be compliments.” 

Munlin said one way that students can make a meaningful change is to, “Say things for what they are. Don’t say ‘the issue in society’, say ‘racism against blacks.” To Munlin, the use of euphemisms to avoid addressing uncomfortable topics only prevents the kind of honest discussions that lead to meaningful change. 

Munlin appreciated President Worthen’s willingness to address the issue directly in his June 2, 2020 message, “With the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and others over the years, and the confluence of recent events, important conversations are happening…BYU stands firmly against racism and violence in any form and is committed to promoting a culture of safety, kindness, respect and love.”

The question then shifts to what concrete steps must be taken to create real change. Munlin cites the official site of the NAACP, where specific pieces of legislation are posted and explained. She says that everyone should take the time to review these proposed laws and supplement that with an immersion in relevant literature.

At the end of the day, “allyship is about more than social media campaigns,” says Munlin. To her, it involves addressing issues directly, making donations, consuming black media, participating in community outreach, identifying and stopping micro-aggressions, taking relevant courses, giving a platform for black voices, and most of all, genuinely listening to those voices with the intent to understand and act. 

Giddins shares her hopes for a more loving inclusive society saying, “I now view the air we breathe as a heavenly gift.  I now view a Zion community as ‘the pure in heart.’ Christ and His people are one there, and all are free to breathe.”