Elizabeth Drolet, a 2012 graduate of the UCLA/Getty Conservation Program, painstakingly applies plaster to "The Black Experience," a mural created by seven African American art students in 1970. The 10-feet by 27-feet mural is on a wall next to Panda Express on the first floor of Ackerman Union. A false wall erected during renovations in 1992 had kept the mural hidden for two decades. The movement to uncover the mural gained momentum in fall 2012 after members of the Afrikan Student Union brought the mural to the attention of the Associated Students UCLA board of directors.
Drolet began working on the restoration in December, beginning with a proper cleaning of the mural using custom-mixed solutions. Patching and repair work is underway. "There was a lot of damage to the underlying plaster," said Drolet, noting that most of the damage is found in the lower portion of the piece. Once patching and repairs are finished, Drolet and three undergraduate art student interns will add paint to the wall to make the mural look as close to original as possible. To date, Drolet has clocked hundreds of hours.
The project is scheduled to be completed by the end of February, she said. The Afrikan Student Union is planning an event to commemorate the project’s completion. At this time, a date has not been announced.