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Art display aims to bring positivity to campus

| Tuesday, November 13, 2018

As the days get shorter and colder, the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures is trying to spread positivity around campus with a new creative art display between DeBartolo and O’Shaughnessy Halls. The exhibit is called “Romance Rocks” and consists of rocks decorated with words written in foreign languages of positivity and encouragement to students, faculty and other passersby.

Emma Farnan | The Observer
The “Romance Rocks” display, located between DeBartolo and O’Shaughnessy Halls. The display was organized by the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures and is meant to send a message of positivity to passing pedestrians.

Sara Nunley, the undergraduate studies coordinator in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures and the person who organized the display, said “Romance Rocks” is meant to combat negativity in the community.

“We basically are spreading kindness and encouragement across campus to all students,” Nunley said. “I feel like sometimes things can be so negative that we want positivity and stuff to be spread.”

The rocks were created by about 500 students currently enrolled in beginning and intermediate level romance language courses. The rocks include words and phrases written in Italian, French, Spanish and Portuguese. In addition to the positive message, the display is also intended to be a creative way for passing pedestrians to engage with foreign languages.

Shauna Williams, the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures’ director of undergraduate studies, helped orchestrate the display. Williams noted the religious aspect of the art. 

“It lines up really well, as a Catholic University, with our Catholic mission of inclusion and diversity and celebrating differences,” she said.

The display is also designed to bring an artistic change of pace to students in language courses, Nunley explained.

“I’ve heard a lot from faculty that most students really enjoyed it,” she said. “Just taking a break from their normal routine in class, to just have like a breather you know and just do something fun and creative.”

“Romance Rocks” is now beginning its second week on display and is scheduled to be cleared by Friday. Community members and language students will help clean up the display. The display’s first week, Williams explained, was designed to draw attention to the art.

“We wanted it on display for two weeks,” she said. “One week so people could just walk by and notice it, especially since this weekend we had a home football game, we had a home hockey game, a home women’s basketball game and a home women’s volleyball game.”

During the display’s second week, Nunley said community members are encouraged to pick up the rocks and share them.

“This is the week that you’re to take one for yourself or share one with a friend,” she said.  

Though Nunley organized and brought the project to Notre Dame, “Romance Rocks” is inspired by the Kindness Rocks Project, founded by Megan Murphy. Murphy is a “Women’s Empowerment Coach, Business Mentor, Kindness Activist, Meditation Instructor and Lecturer,” according to the Project’s website.

Williams said the rocks themselves also communicate an important message about the longevity of positive thinking.

“What do rocks even symbolize? Its something thats a little, you know, enduring and lasting through centuries,” she said. “They kind of have this other meaning of durability and long-lasting perseverance.”

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