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Tim Cleary, who teaches drawing and painting at Northern Michigan University, conducts a session on Tuesday at the Art and Design Building where he showed participants how to paint rocks. The session was part of the Uniting Neighbors in the Experience of Diversity Conference, which continues today at NMU. (Journal photos by Christie Mastric)

UNITED focuses on personal stories and experiences of diversity, as well as opportunities for self-growth and practical workshops to promote diversity on campus, organizers said.

The hybrid format includes in-person and virtual activities. Events are free and open to the public.

Tuesday’s events began with rock painting from 4:30 to 6 pm in the Art and Design Building.

Tim Cleary, who teaches painting and drawing at NMU, led the rock-painting session and demonstrated his art by painting a picture of four small rocks that were lined up on a sheet of paper.

Tim Cleary, who teaches drawing and painting at Northern Michigan University, conducts a session on Tuesday at the Art and Design Building where he showed participants how to paint rocks. The session was part of the Uniting Neighbors in the Experience of Diversity Conference, which continues today at NMU. (Journal photos by Christie Mastric)

“Our idea is to imagine rocks, like this is my setup here of me and my three best friends,” Cleary said. “That’s my brothers. This is like my whole family.

“So, you imagine a rock as a person.”

The activity ties in with the UNITED Conference, Cleary said, because participants were to think of rocks as people, specifically, people who have supported them. Participants were guided to think of rocks as animate and symbolic things as well.

The session also was about “Getting together with some people and making some art,” he said, in this case using gouache paint.

Joanna Apple, an NMU freshman studying graphic design, took part in the session.

Tim Cleary, who teaches drawing and painting at Northern Michigan University, conducts a session on Tuesday at the Art and Design Building where he showed participants how to paint rocks. The session was part of the Uniting Neighbors in the Experience of Diversity Conference, which continues today at NMU. (Journal photos by Christie Mastric)

Her reason for attending was fairly simple.

“I like painting and I like rocks,” Apple said.

A children’s story reading was to take place from 5:30 to 6:30 pm in the Olson Library on campus.

The evening also included a virtual talk from multimedia artist Sawsan AlSaraf titled “Rihla (Journey),” sponsored by NMU’s DeVos Art Museum.

Today will open with a 9 am breakfast at the Northern Center in the Peninsula V room, followed by a presentation by Phyllis Braxton-Frierson of PINK Consulting titled “How are You Experiencing Cultural Differences? A Conversation to Explore Diversity, Inclusion & Equity on our Campus. “

Tim Cleary, who teaches drawing and painting at Northern Michigan University, conducts a session on Tuesday at the Art and Design Building where he showed participants how to paint rocks. The session was part of the Uniting Neighbors in the Experience of Diversity Conference, which continues today at NMU. (Journal photos by Christie Mastric)

Lunch will be provided, along with an interactive discussion on the causes and consequences of implicit bias. Three parallel workshop sessions will be held from 1 to 3 pm today.

The conference’s closing presentation, to be screened virtually at 3 pm in the Northern Center, will be delivered by Melina Laboucan-Massimo, an internationally renowned advocate for climate justice, indigenous sovereignty and women’s rights.

Her talk is titled “Justice, Gender Equality & Indigenous Rights.”

For more information, visit https://nmu.edu/united/programs.

Christie Mastric can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net.

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