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In progress photograph of Zaynub Siddiqui painting the OCA Mocha mural. Photo by Phoebe Oh.

PAWS FOR ART: UMBC student painting mural for OCA Mocha

Exciting developments are happening at OCA Mocha, the coffee shop born out of a collaboration between the University of Maryland, Baltimore County students and the Arbutus community. Continuing its mission to foster an engaging relationship between our university and local town, OCA Mocha has paired with a UMBC undergraduate, Zaynub Siddiqui, to paint a mural on its walls. The mural will celebrate diversity and unite Arbutus and OCA Mocha locals and workers with UMBC students and staff.

Siddiqui is a senior psychology major with a concentration in bio-psychology and child development. While her academic background is in the social sciences, this is not her first time working as a professional artist. As an illustrator, she most recently worked with The Sanctuaries DC and Justice for Muslims Collective to exhibit her “War on Terror” timeline in the “Shattering Justice & Re-Making the Muslim Threat: A Visual Timeline” exhibition.

Siddiqui has painted murals before in team-based competitions, but this is her first solo project. A frequenter of OCA Mocha, she had always felt that the building needed a mural to brighten things up, even before their call for artists. Excitedly, she shared that this is a big step for her.

The main focus of her design is a hand holding an OCA Mocha coffee cup, surrounded by beautiful Maryland foliage. Patrons and passersby are encouraged to take selfies holding a delicious brew of OCA Mocha coffee in front of the mural. This interactive element allows for every individual to feel included in the greater community as they become one with the design.

Arbutus residents will be especially pleased to see the leaves of the famous Arbutus White Oak Tree incorporated into her design. Tragically, the Arbutus Oak split last year during the summer of 2019. Before its fall, it stood at nearly 70 feet for over 300 years. The historic oak will now be memorialized for future generations to learn of its great legacy.

Inclusive to the larger community of Maryland residents, Siddiqui’s design celebrates the state with her depiction of Black-eyed Susans and Monarch butterflies, which are two of the state’s official symbols. “I hope this brightens [everyones] day… and reminds them of the beauty of Maryland,” Siddiqui said.

Siddiqui loves flowers and ensures that nature is a key component in her illustrations. Her favorite flower is included in the mural as a personal touch.“[Peonies] are my favorite to illustrate. I’m originally from California, and over there you cannot grow them, because peonies need a winter season to grow. When I was younger, I was sad we didn’t have them. My mom is an avid gardener and flowers are special in my family.” Now that she lives in Maryland, she can find her favorite flower in bloom in late spring.

With social isolation and other COVID restrictions, Arbutus has been less frequented than it normally is. Siddiqui hopes that the creation of the mural will be a positive force in the community.

Regarding the new students entering UMBC during this unusual time, Siddiqui stated “I think often we get stuck in our heads and forget to welcome new people… so I really hope [the mural] is a new opportunity for us to move past this difficult time and welcome everyone.”

Going forward, the OCA Mocha mural will act as a landmark of hospitality on East Drive for future generations. When it is finished, everyone is encouraged to go get the OCA Mocha signature drink, a spiced cocoa blend of espresso and chocolate aptly called, “The OCA Mocha,” and take a selfie of themselves holding their own “OCA Mocha” in front of the mural.

To see more of Siddiqui’s illustrations, visit her Instagram and Twitter. She describes her style as the incorporation of “traditional Islamic art and social justice with a Gen-Z flair.” She specializes in gouache and acrylics and is highly skilled at calligraphy. She hopes to bring her passion for art together with her passion for healing into a clinical art therapy setting in the future.