If you frequent Pembroke, chances are you’ve seen Emmaline Mansfield’s visual handiwork.
Her latest is a giant, 12-by-10-foot mural prominently displayed on the side of Pembroke Pawn Shop on Third Street. Traveling west, motorists catch a perfect view of the abstract landscape the 2020 UNC Pembroke graduate painted as part of her Maynor Honors College senior project.
The mural depicts a bright yellow sun breaking through a blue sky, clouds and trees in the foreground. The lower portion shows the Lumber River flowing through a forest scene. Its outer edges are adorned with Eastern woodland flowers which can be found in Lumbee designs. She chose to incorporate her Lumbee heritage while maintaining a sense of ambiguity. Mansfield hopes the mural, which she titled ‘Be the Light,’ will spread a message of positivity and hope.
“I spent four years as an arts major at UNCP, so I decided to incorporate what I love into my honors project. I’ve always been a person who wants to give back, no matter what capacity. I chose to contribute to my community through a public art project with a positive message.”
The Pembroke native has been driven by her passion for art and a deep love for community since a young age. As a child, she’d transform her dad’s law office into her personal art gallery. Finger paintings hung from floor to ceiling. As she got older, she moved to watercolor, oils and acrylics. She honed her skills in high school, as an art teacher’s assistant, and later at UNCP, where she studied studio art.
Mansfield was active in UNCP’s campus community as a member of the Maynor Honors College, women’s swim team and her sorority, Alpha Pi Omega. She also served as All Greek Council president, a New Student Orientation leader, art tutor and volunteer speaker with Future Business Leaders of America.
She described her UNCP career as “the most amazing experience of my life.”
“I had the opportunity to stay on campus my freshman year which helped me get integrated into the UNCP community. As All Greek Council president, I met people from all walks of life. That’s what I love about UNCP. Its diversity. Everyone is so unique and that’s beautiful.”
Today, Mansfield uses her craft to inspire others as an elementary school art teacher with the Public Schools of Robeson County. She plans to return to UNCP in Spring 2021 to pursue a Master of Arts in Teaching in Art Education.
Though her undergraduate career has drawn to a close, she’s grateful to UNCP for the chance to leave her creative mark on her hometown.
“With my senior project, I originally thought of creating a series of paintings and putting them on display. But, I thought, what good does it do after it’s no longer on display. I wanted to make an impact–something that lasts. This mural gave me the greatest platform I could ever be given. I feel inspired to continue to create every time I see it.”