UHD Student Giselle Oviedo Is ‘Reaching Up’!
By Sheryl E. Taylor
At the corner of Louisiana and Pease streets sits the Downtown eatery Zydeco Diner. On the diner’s northeast side is the location of UHD student Giselle Oviedo’s mural, “Reaching Up.”
Oviedo joins the more than two dozen muralists featured in Downtown Houston’s Big Art. Bigger Change. initiative. The organizers of this grand art experience, founders Thibault and Audrey Decker of Street Art for Mankind (SAM), put a call out to the city’s college students for the opportunity to design a mural. Surprisingly, UHD was the only school that responded to SAM’s offer.
“We announced this to our students, and Giselle was one of 10 students who submitted proposals for this project,” said Beth Secor, Lecturer of Art, who teaches the mural class at UHD. “For most of our students, this was the first time they ever submitted a proposal for an art project. Whether they received the commission or not, it was an incredible learning opportunity for them as artists.”
Oviedo is a first-generation student and junior in UHD’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS) Fine Arts program. Her first memory of expressing her artistry was as a child.
“My parents would always tell me not to draw on the walls. I would never listen to them,” said the 20-year-old, laughing. After learning that her mural submission was selected, she recently teased her parents by telling them, “Look at me now. I’m getting to draw, color, and paint on the walls.”
Earlier this year, she was featured in UHD’s Spring Art Exhibition. She also participated in the Arts & Communication Festival and served as an illustrator for the student-run newspaper, The Dateline. Oviedo credits faculty members Beth Secor and El Franco Lee II, for “encouraging and helping me hone my art. I learned so much this semester, and I’m grateful for our faculty.”
“Giselle is a talented artist and a great student!” said Secor. “She’s hardworking, responsible, even-keeled, and good natured. I am incredibly proud of her, she was more than deserving of this opportunity for an incredible design.”
The committee that selected the mural included the Deckers from SAM, representatives from the City of Houston, the Downtown Management District, and Houston area businesses. SAM’s requirement for all murals selected was that the design must reflect one or more of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, which includes gender equality, quality education, climate action, and clean water and sanitation.
When the new murals debuted in late May, Houston became the world’s only city with an exhibition of this magnitude. Oviedo’s 8-foot by 11-foot design took a team of student volunteers, friends, and family members to execute over the course of 11 days. Most of the funding was provided by donors to SAM; however, UHD’s Impact Learning Office provided liability insurance for the students.
So, what’s next? While she’s still pinching herself, Oviedo is excited about what the future holds. “Since high school, my career goal was to have something of my own to share and sell my art in various mediums,” she said.
Oviedo admitted that as a self-described “professional procrastinator,” she waited until the last moment to submit her design for consideration on April 15 at midnight.
Her advice for those who may procrastinate and fill their heads with what-ifs? “It might sound cheesy,” she said. “My advice is to just do it.”
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.
U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.