Not your typical gang of youth spray-painting inner-city Minneapolis walls …

Working on the practice wall (photo by Angelia Sampson and Danielle Mkali)

1725 E Lake Street (site of the International Shoe Palace) is being transformed by an in-progress mural: an educational laboratory where twenty-four youth participants, six art facilitators and organizers from three supporting organizations are collaborating on the Phillips Neighborhood Mural Project this summer. Main Street Project, Waite House, and Hope Community are partnering to beautify the Phillips neighborhood with this summer’s mural. [Slide show below.]

Most of the youth come from the Phillips, Powderhorn, and Central neighborhoods and have invested six workshop sessions in learning to listen to one another, brainstorm, sketch, and plan their mural with guidance from art facilitators. In addition to learning about the artistic process, Chaka Mkali of Hope Community points out that participants are learning skills worthy of a prominent spot on their resumes, such as “conflict resolution and public speaking skills.” Edwin Gutierrez, a senior at Roosevelt High School reports, “We learned that it’s better to help each other and to get everyone involved. We think of this as one big family.”

Participants are currently in the midst of a 14-day painting period. Their work, at this point unofficially titled, “Art Heals,” is scheduled to be unveiled on August 13. They will wrap up this year’s work with a reflection session on August 17. When asked, the youth are already reflecting upon the value of this experience. Asmaa Bint, an 18-year-old aspiring artist from the Powderhorn neighborhood believes “it puts a good face on us. We’re not just getting into trouble.” Luz Lourdes de la Luz, an 18-year-old student at MCTC planning to study criminal justice believes “murals show the voice of our community.”

 

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    Erin Elizabeth Collins Salinas's picture
    Erin Elizabeth Collins Salinas

    Erin Collins (erin dot coll0200 at gmail dot com) is a St. Paul native, occupational therapist and jewelry artist, who has lived in Mexico for the past seven years.