|Love Our Community teams up with BR Walls for murals|
This summer, the Love Our Community youth employment program has provided opportunities for Baton Rouge neighborhood teens to beautify their respective communities.
The program's projects have included planting gardens and painting murals on dilapidated community walls.
For the past two weeks, teens have been working with local artists and the BR Walls Project in painting murals along walls near the Eden Park Branch Library.
An incentive for such work is two-fold—not only do the teens get paid $8 an hour, but they also have given back to the community with work that could last decades.
"They're going to have ownership over this for 20-30 years," Clark Derbes says.
Derbes is a Baton Rouge native and artist who recently showed works in New Orleans for the White Linen Night at the Martine Chaisson Gallery. He was one of many local artists who helped the teens with their murals.
Other artists on site included Charles Barbier, Terrie Underwood, Raina Wirta and Erick Fields.
vUnderwood says a project like this plants seeds in the youth community.
"When these teens step back, they realize, 'Wow, I was a part of that…I did that,'" she says. "It changes something within their creative mind that will set them forth in their path for the future."
Trinice Simms, an organizer for the Love Our Community Star Hill crew, says the opportunity to beautify the community makes people stop and respect the new art.
"These teens are taking something from paper and bringing it to life," Simms says. "Now, people are coming into the library and saying, 'That looks good.' It's an opportunity for people to think, 'Wow, what is that? Who is that?' That's the effect we want to give to the community."
The mural is colorful, with a palette ranging from bright blues and reds to pinks and greens. Two community teams worked on the Eden Park mural, and both groups' works pay homage to African-American historical figures and specific themes that are important to the youths.
You'll see Michael Jordan, Mohammed Ali, and the local African-American History Museum curator Sadie Roberts-Joseph all painted on the wall. Also, those colorful vibes show off a sense of serenity, history and even give nod to jazz music.
Tacovi Pecot, a 16-year-old from the Star Hill crew, worked on a piece of the wall featuring a mother and daughter, and their colorful headpieces.
"[The headpieces were] how they expressed themselves then," Pecot says. "It got a little personal once we started doing this. I'm glad to see it came out very well. By expressing ourselves through art, we're showing people who we are and our heritage. It's a good feeling to do something like this and give back to the community."
Elisha Davis, a 15-year-old also from the Star Hill crew, worked on a piece of the wall featuring an African-American mother.
"I have a lot of emotions about it," Davis says. "It stands for a lot. I think it stands for everybody who actually did this. She's a piece of us now."
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