September 17, 2021

Organization Confronting Racial Injustice with Public Art Announces Partnership to Install Murals in Four Towns, Including Old Lyme

NEW LONDON, CT —Public Art for Racial Justice Education (PARJE) and CT Murals have today announced a partnership to enable the installation of four murals in each of four towns:- New London, Old Lyme, Norwich, and East Lyme.

This will be part of the Sister Murals Project whereby skilled and unskilled artists from different communities, races, ethnicities, and generations will work together under master Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) artists. The murals they create will bring lesser told stories to life while remembering cherished values in their respective communities.

Since its official launch in March of this year, PARJE has gained support from all around southeastern Connecticut. This includes colleges and museums, municipalities, art galleries, civic organizations, churches, and various businesses throughout the region.

Public Art for Racial Justice Education is a broad-based, interracial, non-partisan, non-sectarian group consisting of volunteers from various communities around the shoreline region. These communities include Old Lyme, Lyme, Old Saybrook, East Lyme, Essex, Deep River, Norwich and New  London. Building partnerships with surrounding communities is an additional focus of the group’s stated mission.

CT Murals has been dedicated to creating inclusive public art since 2015. The group utilizes grants as well as community support and donations to create all of its public art. Currently, CT Murals is working to install its 39 MLK Murals across the state, one for every year of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life.

The Sister Murals will be the second official public art project of PARJE. Their first public art project is a diptych that travels between schools, museums, libraries, and faith communities to teach about the history of the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Alabama.

The diptych, a two-panel painting, was created by artists Nancy Gladwell and Jasmine Oyola. The first host of the diptych was Norwich Free Academy in early July. Since then, it has been to Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Waterford, New London and Hartford.

Public Art for Racial Justice Education has also been working with one of its earliest partners, Sustainable CT, on a series of videos to document their conversations with everyone from students to elected officials regarding the role public art can play in society.

In addition to these videos PARJE has partnered with the Florence Griswold Museum of Old Lyme and the Lyman Allyn Museum of New London to produce lectures discussing race, society, and art. Jason Deeble, project manager for the East Lyme Sister Mural, hopes to keep the spirit of those lectures going and sees public art as the best chance to do it.

When discussing the Sister Murals Project, Deeble commented “Art and learning, and civic responsibility, are all kinds of major fixtures in my life and a mural project like this makes a beautiful little Venn diagram with me right in the center.”

Public Art for Racial Justice Education, along with their financial sponsor, The Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut, will work with CT Murals to involve the community in a variety of ways.

Public Art for Racial Justice Education believes there is an opportunity to involve the community in all aspects of mural installation. Whether it be discussing the mural themes in person or on a virtual call, or students assisting the artist with installation, there are several ways to involve the community.

More important than the installation of the murals themselves, however, are the plans PARJE has made for the time after these four pieces have been completed. The group is planning to host both presentations and performances at the site of the Sister Murals.

Fulton Park, the site of the New London Sister Mural wall, is configured in such a way that the area directly in front of the wall creates a natural stage. PARJE is committed to using the broad appeal of art and education to facilitate easy opportunities for conversation in the community about the difficult subject of racial injustice.

With three full basketball courts and a skate park, Eddie Long, PARJE Co-chair and member of the New London Arts Council, believes Fulton Park could easily accommodate a large crowd or audience. In discussing the need for neglected spaces to be utilized, Long stated, “We don’t like blank spaces in New London. We like spaces to be filled with people, with art, and ideas.”

CT Murals will have a chance to help install an indoor piece as well with Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School agreeing to become the future home of the Old Lyme Sister Mural. Located beside the school’s auditorium there is potential for educational programs or events that tie into the mural’s theme of “Welcoming All.”

There will be a Call for Artists coming from PARJE in the beginning of September.

For the Sister Murals Project, an official fundraising campaign has begun this month with a page on the crowdfunding site, Patronicity. If you would like to learn more about PARJE, or donate to one of the four Sister Murals, visit racialjusticeart.org

To become involved with PARJE, email racialjusticeart@gmail.com

Follow Public Art for Racial Justice Education on social media at these links:

Editor’s Note: This article is based on a press release from PARJE.

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