The painting a Metropolitan Community College student created as an inauguration gift for Chancellor Kimberly Beatty doesn’t have an official title. Still, “Faces of MCC” seems like an obvious choice, the artist says.
But when Daniel Garcia-Roman presented the artwork to Dr. Beatty on the inauguration stage Aug. 24, “Ghosts of MCC” might have been an apt title, too. About one-third of the 24-by-18-inch painting was unfinished, just faint, penciled-in images.
Garcia-Roman, 20, completed the ambitious piece in September and it is now in the chancellor’s hands. All told, he spent an estimated 50-60 hours on the painting. “It felt like eternity,” he says.
He was also a little out of his comfort zone because he’d decided to try oil paint instead of acrylic. Acrylic dries too quickly, he says. Oil paint, on the other hand, allowed him to “get into the trenches — the details — of faces with more ease.”
How did “Faces of MCC” come about in the first place? Over the summer, campus leaders brainstormed programs or projects tied to the College’s mission that could be spotlighted at the chancellor’s ceremonial installation. A video would be produced for each campus, and students and the campus presidents would present Dr. Beatty with gifts inspired by the videos’ subjects.
In commissioning Garcia-Roman’s painting, Penn Valley president Tyjaun Lee told him the piece should reflect the MCC mission. “Other than that, I was given the freedom to work my magic,” he says. He ended up getting ideas from MCC website photos and articles from the 2017-18 school year.
“It was tough choosing the people without being biased,” he says. Ultimately, he focused on people creating opportunities, students who benefited from those opportunities, and moments of accomplishment.
Another theme became apparent as well. “He shows the diversity that exists within Metropolitan Community College, more specifically the Penn Valley campus,” Lee says. The artwork “exceeded my expectations.”
So who’s in the painting and why? Here’s a guide
1. Student Richard Cole (left) with Terrell Tigner, then associate dean at MCC-Penn Valley and now dean of student services at MCC-Maple Woods. The source picture can be found here.
2. Teeka Hodge (left) with KC Scholars board chair Jan Kreamer. Thanks to the new scholarship program, Hodge was able to finish her A.A. at MCC-Maple Woods. (Yes, that’s the MCC Wolf, our new mascot, between them.) Source picture
3. A Sudanese refugee who posed with one of the quilts in the “1,000 Footsteps Tell the Story” exhibit last winter at MCC-Penn Valley’s Carter Art Center. Source picture
4. A kite representing MCC-Longview’s annual Flights of Fancy Mega Kite Festival
5. Student Paloma Ramos, who spoke at the launch of the Middle College Program at MCC-Penn Valley last winter. Source picture
6. Nicholas Fox Serrano, a student in MCC-Penn Valley’s Summer Jumpstart program this year
7. Christian Hernandez, one of the five 2018 winners of the Chancellor’s Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship. (Garcia-Roman, the artist, was also one of the winners.) Source picture
8. Former MCC-Penn Valley Dean of Students Yvette Sweeney with international student counselor Julianne Jacques at the 2017 MCCA convention. Source picture
9. Student Jen Bess at the MCC Foundation’s Gratitude Reception last spring. Source picture
10. Shykela Hobson, who signed up for MCC’s phlebotomy program with help from SkillUP, which offers free job training to Missourians receiving federal food assistance. Source picture
11. A participant in the Easter egg hunt at MCC-Blue River’s annual All for the Children family resource fair. Source picture
12. Some of the hands taking part in a ribbon-cutting (note the oversized scissors) for the Burns & McDonnell Design Innovation Lab at MCC-Business & Technology in the fall of 2017. Source picture
13. Student Elizabeth Robinson, winner of the Chancellor Kimberly Beatty Scholarship, with her young daughter Allison. Source picture
14. Lamonte McIntyre, the Kansas City, Kan., man exonerated in 2017 after being wrongfully imprisoned for 23 years. MCC offered McIntyre a full scholarship. He was a guest at the Chancellor’s Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Luncheon last January. Source picture
15. Chancellor Kimberly Beatty at MCC’s 2018 commencement ceremony. Source picture
16. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He appears just below one of the 2018 winners of MCC’s MLK scholarship.
17. Judith and Matt Flynn, honorees at the MCC Foundation’s Gratitude Reception last spring. The Flynns founded MCC’s Cristo Rey Kansas City Scholarship. Source picture
18. MCC Board of Trustees President Trent Skaggs at the 2018 commencement ceremony. Source picture
19. MCC-Penn Valley President Tyjaun Lee at an event welcoming her and launching the campus’ Student Success Center in October 2017. Source picture
The artist’s goal: More than pretty pictures
The way Garcia-Roman sees it, one successful art project begets another opportunity. He spent part of the summer of 2017 working on his first commission: a mural of Kansas City icons on the side of a pawn shop in Northeast Kansas City, not far from where he lives with his parents, older brother and two younger sisters. He was 18 at the time.
That got him some attention, and afterward, as a first-year student at MCC-Penn Valley in midtown Kansas City, he was invited to take part in a RAW Artists exhibition of 60 artists at the VooDoo Lounge in Harrah’s Casino. One of the attendees was his campus president, who came to support him.
Last January, he was the Penn Valley winner of the Chancellor’s Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship.
Next he was selected for a Mellon Curatorial Fellowship, one of just 15 Midwest undergraduates to spend a week last June at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art learning what it’s like to be a curator.
Then there was the painting for inauguration, and as a result of that he heard from Penn Valley academic advisor Alex Lopez about the Kansas/Missouri Dream Alliance, which advocates for undocumented young people. Garcia-Roman donated a piece called “Last of the Buffalo” to be auctioned at a KSMODA fundraising gala.
A 2017 graduate of Lincoln College Preparatory Academy, he is now working toward his MCC associate in arts degree. After graduating next spring, he is likely to transfer to UMKC.
“I am extremely grateful I came here first,” he says.
English instructor Lisa Spaulding is “a big-time influence on me.” Art instructor Mary Beth Moley has him thinking beyond a bachelor’s degree. Maggie Garcia, former Career Services coordinator at Penn Valley (now at Longview) is “like a counselor for professionalism.”
His support network also includes MCC-Penn Valley’s Project Success program and its Men of Color organization.
He’d like to become an art teacher while running his own studio and continuing to create art. Another passion is helping at-risk young people, “students with less confidence in higher education.” As a first-generation college student, he could be describing himself.
“It takes a lot of patience from parents that didn’t go far in school themselves,” he says.
For him, creating art helps him understand the world, feeds his curiosity. He wants to make more than pretty pictures — he wants to address weighty issues like homelessness, unfair labor practices, consumerism, machismo and femininity, the state of politics.
“Art making is always going to be there,” he says. “I can envision myself making a living off of art, but I also want to give back.”
Dr. Lee, Penn Valley’s president, can see all that and more. “Daniel is a kind and humble young man,” she says, “who I know will transform the artistic landscape within the Kansas City region.”
Here’s the video about Garcia-Roman that was shown at inauguration: