Young artists and community members came together in June to dedicate a mural created by high school youth celebrating Richmond’s Southside. This 1,800 square-foot mural, at the corner of Hull St. and Cowardin Ave is the culmination of an ART 180 program involving primarily African-American and Latino youth from George Wythe and Huguenot high schools.
The nine young artists worked closely with artist Curtis Gutierrez, who led previous mural projects through ART 180, and Rachel Mehl, a bilingual educator. Beginning last September, they met each week to participate in a curriculum focused on communication and intercultural understanding.
The young artists began painting the wall in April, working on four stories of scaffolding. Their interactions inspired the themes and imagery of the mural, which include a tree of life, a historic Manchester fountain, and colorful faces that reflect the diverse histories of the artists.
“This mural is a collective expression,” said Andrew Seward, a senior at George Wythe High. “The meaning is the differences through the ages of time and our ancestors. The mural is saying even though each ethnic group has its differences we all have a collective voice of making our community a better place for everyone.”
“I believe the mural represents the way people of all races work together and help each other to complete one task,” said Gregory Ford, a freshman at George Wythe. “I wanted to be a part of the program because I want to show everyone the talents that I possess and make my artwork better. From all the sessions that I have been able to take part in, I have reached new and higher goals and many new friends.”
“We teach with this mural that with all of us working together, we can make a better world,” said Yanile Camacho, a sophomore at James River High who transferred from Huguenot this semester but continued to attend the program. “This is what is important about what this mural expresses. Among different people, it demonstrates that we are all valuable, and that it’s not important where we come from but rather where
we are going.”