On September 20, 2007 the Pollinators mural was dedicated at Lawrence Farmers Market. On March 6, 2015 it was destroyed. And this week, two years after it came down, and spurred by a remarkable community effort to ensure it would return, we celebrate the germination of the Re-Imagined Pollinators!
This is new territory for me. I have restored old murals, “Seeds” at 9th & Mississippi and “1000 Miles Away” at Cordley Elementary to name a couple. I’ve also lost a few to time and changing priorities, but I’ve never reimagined a mural. Diego Rivera famously recreated his “Man at the Crossroads” at Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City after J.D. Rockefeller Jr. tore down the original in New York. The dispute with the monopolist oil magnate centered around a portrait of the Russian leader Lenin which Rivera made sure to include in the recreated version.
The tension between an artist’s politics, a patron’s power and the persistence to tell one’s story in full are all part of what make the process of creating public art so dynamic and democratic. And this story of destruction and resurrection is something that our new design team is keeping in mind as we explore out how to tell the next chapter of the Pollinators.
I am supported on this project by the incredible mural team of: Nedra Bonds, a nationally recognized quilter who’s work is currently on view at the EthnicArt Gallery in Kansas City; Janada Birdling, a Lawrence High School senior who has worked on murals at the Ballard center and at the Full Circle Youth Program; and Eugene Sarmiento, a first year printmaking grad student who has worked alongside the Sour Grapes graffiti crew in Dallas and is currently an intern at the Spencer Museum.
We are joined by an equally committed and creative team of volunteers from the community who are integral to our being able to see the potential of our project from many points of view. They include local artists, folks from Farmers Market and the Spencer Museum, in addition to passionate residents who want to help shape the community they live in. I am grateful for their work and willingness to give their time to this project. And this project would not be possible without the leadership of the Spencer Museum of Art and especially Curator of European and American Art, Susan Earle. You can keep up to date with the Re-Imagined Pollinators on our facebook page, and all are welcome to stop by our workshops to see the process as it unfolds.