BYU Office of Belonging brings students together to ‘make their mark’ at Nativity painting activity


The Office of Belonging hosted a “Your Mark in the Masterpiece” activity on Thursday, Nov. 30. Students had the opportunity to help create a paint-by-number rendition of “Once Upon a Christmas,” a nativity art piece by artist Jorge Cocco.

Students stopped by, painted a section of the piece and enjoyed refreshments.

According to Octavio Tobias, a student employee from Brazil who has worked at the office since it started, the intent of the activity was to help students contribute and become a part of the nativity story. 

“I think fostering belonging is important because everyone’s contribution really matters,” he said. 

Students coming together to contribute different colors and shapes to create a colorful, beautiful painting emulated this concept, he said.

Tobias said that they collaborated with the piece’s original artist Jorge Cocco, who created a custom paint-by-number version for the event. Tobias said that Cocco was more than happy to help with the project.

Lauren Thorpe, a nursing major, attended the event and painted a portion of the piece. She said she has always loved Cocco’s work and liked the concept of a paint-by-number project.

Thorpe said she’s going to share her light this Christmas season by seeking opportunities to serve the community. 

“I feel like if I have the intent to find ways to serve, I’m going to find ways,” she said.

Students could choose a number correlated color to add to the painting. Original artist Jorge Cocco handpicked the colors for the project. (Emma Butler Price)

Participants were encouraged to serve by bringing socks, gloves and hygiene products to be donated to the Provo Food and Care Coalition.

The Provo Food and Care Coalition is an organization in Provo that serves much of the city’s homeless population, Tobias said. The donation box will remain in the Office of Belonging to collect items throughout the month of December.

Kade Cope, a student employee at the Office of Belonging studying social work, said the office is a place where students who feel underrepresented can find resources and support.

“They can come here and they can just feel loved,” he said.

More activities hosted by the Office of Belonging can be found on their website or on Instagram at @byuofficeofbelonging. Students can visit the office in the Wilkinson Student Center in room 2400.

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