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Alumni and Friends Making an Impact

Gracie, Claire and Mira standing in front of their work in progress, the entryway mural of The Hub Powered by PNC Bank. To the left, there is a ladder; the background is the mural mostly finished painting, but still covered in painter's tape; and the three alumni are in the bottom right corner, smiling.

Communal Creation

Three alumni left their mark on UD by using brush strokes to capture the partnership between the University, the Dayton Entrepreneurs' Center and the city of Dayton in a mural at The Hub Powered By PNC Bank.

Gracie King '23, Claire Pawlecki '23 and Mira Holifield '23 were in the last semester of their graphic design degrees when they applied in January to a call for art for the space's entryway. Their proposal was selected out of 29 applications in June, just a few weeks after graduation, when the team received a stipend to purchase materials and get to work.

"When we saw the call for art, we were super excited and wanted to shoot our shot to see where the experience could go," King said. "The story line was something we were all interested in and since we were UD students and familiar with The Hub, we could contribute an interesting design to what they're asking for."

The trio, who met four years ago at orientation, had attended a painting class together their junior year in The Hub, so they felt a special connection to what it represented — a space honoring both the University's and the city of Dayton's pasts, relishing in their present partnership grounded in innovation, and envisioning a future for the common good of all.

Over the next two months, they planned the logistics on Zoom from three cities before reuniting in Dayton to execute the painting.

The artwork draws inspiration from Daytonians, including the Wright brothers and poet Sierra Leone's work, "Spirit of the Flyer."

Its abstract design also "merges the architectural pieces together with the community and the relationships The Hub has with the surrounding area," according to King.

The Hub, a joint venture between the University of Dayton and the Dayton Entrepreneurs' Center, is located in the Dayton Arcade, a building with more than 100 years of history and whose recent renovation represents the city's rejuvenation. The Hub is one of the Arcade's anchor tenants, bustling with 130 businesses and 550 students.

"Gracie, Claire and Mira did an exceptional job of capturing the call for art committee's vision about what we wanted," said Vince Lewis, president of The Hub Powered by PNC Bank and UD associate vice president of entrepreneurial initiatives. "Their piece demonstrates the successful partnership between the university and the Entrepreneurs' Center, and how The Hub has become a key component of Dayton's entrepreneurial ecosystem."

Holifield had experience painting murals, but this was a first for King and Pawlecki.

"The project was the perfect mix between graphic design and fine art," said Pawlecki. "Learning how to do things digitally and translate that to a fine art piece in the end was a lot of fun. In the end, we're all happy with how it turned out."

With their first post-graduate commission complete, King is now working with a branding agency, and Holified and Pawlecki are working on freelance design projects.

"​​We're grateful to have had the opportunity to leave our mark in a space where students and individuals from the community will be able to appreciate it," Holifield said. "It was important to us to communicate how much history is in this space while also sharing the excitement of envisioning the future."

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