A community gathering will take place at the Seward Market August 28, this time celebrating community rather than marking tragedy. A year and a half ago, on a cold January night, Seward neighbors gathered together outside this market to show solidarity with and compassion for the families of three Somali Americans who were tragically gunned down by teens in what was reported as a robbery gone bad. In the following weeks posters proclaiming “Seward Stands Together” sprouted up in neighborhood businesses to show continuing support and to take a stand against violence. [Video, slideshow below.]
The Unveiling Event takes place this Sunday, August 28, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. at Seward Market, 2431 E. Franklin Ave in Minneapolis.
“We wanted to create that ambience on a more permanent basis,” said Elizabeth Greenbaum, Executive Director of ArtiCulture, an organization based in Seward that does art education and community art projects. They brought together a team of young people from the neighborhood to create the mural.
Local photographers Jennifer Larson and Mohamud Mumin led the team of young photographers who would create images of their community to mount along the east wall of the Market. The project was particularly meaningful to Mumin, as he saw that the local teens involved in creating art were the flip side of the teens whose lives had gone terribly wrong. “The kids that were responsible [for the crime] were the same age as the kids I was instructing” for this art project, said Mumin. “Sometimes it’s just a fine line that determines what road their life takes them.”
Mumin said the project was also meaningful to him because he had a chance to interact with the families of the slain, including Seward Market owner Faysal Warfa. “That put a face to the tragedy, and brought it to another dimension.”
As the group met with Warfa and other relatives to flesh out the concept and the design, Mumin acted as a go-between and facilitated understanding across cultures and generations. “The families did not want it to become a shrine, Mumin said, and there were religious and cultural concerns about displaying photographs of the faces of people. At the same time, “it was all about community.”
“The group of kids were very happy to respect the wishes of the families, and were really very respectful,” said Mumin. At the same time, they struggled with the assignment.
“How can we express community,” asked photographer Issac Mutcherson, “without showing the faces of people?” In workshops they discussed elements that make up community and went out to photograph those elements.
Mutcherson continued to struggle. He said the other photographers were bringing back great pictures, but he wasn’t getting it. “I just took a walk through the community, and didn’t think about it so much,” he said. And then it happened. He started seeing community. “Wow, I haven’t captured any of this,” he said. “I wasn’t seeing.”
One look at the mural shows just how much Mutcherson and the other photographers did see, and how community can be expressed in many ways. The mural consists of five panels of photographic collages mounted on the east wall of the building. Volunteers painted a backdrop for the panels on three community painting days this summer.
Once the photographs were selected, volunteer TJ Besaw assembled digital collages for 5 panels, each measuring four by eight feet. The collages were printed on aluminum plastic composite panels by Big Print.
Many businesses supported the effort. Cameras were donated by West Photo and Lake St. Target, and equipment was loaned by Talmud Torah School of St Paul and Network Medics, Inc. Welna II Hardware offered hardware, Valspar donated paint, and ArcStone assembled a video. Others pitched in to feed the volunteer photographers and artists, including Milio’s, Tracy’s, Seward Cafe, Seward Pizza Luce, Shabelle’s Grocery & Restaurant, Bethany Lutheran Church and Sister’s Camelot.
The project was funded by grants from COMPAS and the City of Minneapolis Great Streets Program. Seward Market also contributed funding.
The photographers and artists will be on hand to sign the mural. The photographers/painting artists are Grace Scribner-O’Pray, Dylan Portoghese, Mary Metehnek, Cayla Roberts, Isaac Mutcherson, Adam Ahmed, Omar Ahmed, and Emma Gardner; and painting artist Delia Ihinger. The project was coordinated by Deb Ervin of ArtiCulture.
For a sneak peek, view the teaser video made by Nick Longtin and Dan Sundquist of ArcStone, below: