After receiving Lawrence Cultural Arts Commission and City Commission approvals, securing liability insurance and getting the ok to use five parking spaces in front of the wall, we finally have begun painting. Over Memorial Day weekend, no less than 130 people helped revive the Pollinators by adding their own brushstrokes.
The design for the mural is based on an intensive community-based process that I led this spring with the help of Nedra Bonds, Janada Birdling, Eugene Sarmiento, Susan Earle and a volunteer design team. We explored the original project, it’s untimely demise and how a new version of the mural could reflect a changed environment ten years later. Our new design engages with those forces that inhibit or threaten pollination, considering questions about what plants and creatures are thought of as pests or weeds and why. And it celebrates the capacity of art and artists to envision a more just and sustainable world.
The new design shows the original artists addressing threats to pollinators by working together to rebuild their mural and create a more sustainable habitat for all. In this new design, Gordon Parks, Hattie McDaniel and Langston Hughes reassemble pieces of the original mural, while Oscar Micheaux documents. Coleman Hawkins saxophone plays more than music now as it releases brilliantly colored pollen grains toward awaiting flowers.
And Gwendolyn Brooks has taken off from the ground with a wave of pollinating creatures (many created by young people at New York School) rushing toward a desaturated landscape hoping to bring color and vitality back. As she flies, she writes a new quote into the sky, “And this is the urgency: Live! And have your blooming in the noise of the whirlwind.”
Our team recognized that the original group of artists (Pollinators) all came from a particular time period associated with the Harlem Renaissance, and wanted to add more contemporary figures to help broaden the mural’s meaning. Added in the design is a new generation represented by a boy on the right helping to reconstruct the original mural, a girl on the left receiving A. Douglas’s palette like a baton in a relay, and the musician and actress Janelle Monáe inspiring the group with song.
A public celebration of the (almost) completed mural will be on Friday, June 9th at 5:30.