Jasaad Graves ’20 stands next to the artwork he created for the Diversity and Intercultural Center, located in Memorial Hall. The artwork features portraits of inspiring figures, including Maya Angelou.

2 Minutes With … is a series of short features to introduce us to the passions and interests of Lawrentians on and off campus. Find more 2 Minutes With … features here.

Story by Awa Badiane ’21

The Diversity and Intercultural Center (DIC) is a favorite space on the Lawrence University campus for Jasaad Graves ’20.

 “The space is usually where I come to do my art,” said Graves, a studio art major from Columbus, Georgia.

Thus, it was an ideal connection when the DIC received a grant to revamp the space to better represent and connect with the students who regularly spend time there. 

Graves created a series of portraits featuring people of color who have been important to the students of color who use the DIC space in Memorial Hall — Maya Angelou, Malcolm X, and Nelson Mandela, among others.

“I felt like it was needed,” said Graves. “I felt like we needed something, even if it wasn’t done by me, I felt like we needed something done by the students, just to help represent the people who are constantly in the space and value the space.” 

For the love of art

The DIC project is a continuation of the creative journey Graves started long before he got to Lawrence.

“I started drawing from a very young age,” said Graves. “I probably decided I like drawing around first grade, maybe.  But I decided to start taking it serious around fifth grade.”  

Graves has been featured in various galleries on campus including the Black Student Union’s Cultural Expressions Art Show and exhibitions in the Wriston Art Center.

With Graves always being in the DIC creating art, the staff didn’t have to look far to select the student they wanted to create art for the space.  

“We were looking for a Lawrence student of color to help make the DIC an inclusive and empowering space by creating art of people who students of color feel inspired by,” said Adona Lauriano ’21, student resource coordinator at the DIC. “Out of all the people we interviewed, Jasaad’s portfolio revealed he had what it took to pull off an amazing job.”

Connections beyond art

Graves is a defensive end and captain on the Lawrence University football team, and he’s an active member of the Black Student Union (BSU) and Brother to Brother, both student organizations.

He said he puts an emphasis on showing leadership when fostering important connections with students of color across campus.  

“In everything I listed, they all kind of serve as a safe haven for members of the color community on campus here at Lawrence,” said Graves. “Even on the football team, a majority of our players come from all kinds of different backgrounds.”  

What’s next?

The senior would like to continue creating art in some form after he leaves Lawrence. 

“I’ve always wanted to go into product design,” said Graves. “I know since I’ve been here, I’ve focused a lot more on portraiture and graphite and marker drawings. So hopefully I’ll be making more of a push toward digital art and things like that.” 

Awa Badiane ’21 is a student writer in the Communications office.