Kiwanis Club of New Kingston launches mural project

The Kiwanis Club of New Kingston (KCNK) yesterday launched its 2019-2020 administration major project which will see a mural painted at the intersection of Mark Lane and Harbour Street in Kingston to promote wellness and empowerment through artistic contribution.

Speaking at the launch held on Mark Lane, Kingston yesterday, KCNK Distinguished President (DP) Dr Adella Campbell explained that original plans were to establish a maternal and child health services centre at the St Joseph’s Hospital in Vineyard Town, St Andrew.

But challenges imposed by the novel coronavirus pandemic thwarted the plans, leaving the club to scramble for a new project.

Consequently, when Cedric Vice Douglas, artist and cousin to KCNK Distinguished President Claudette Carter, shared his engagement plans a new idea was birthed.

“A miracle happened when Cedric decided to propose to his fiance Julia. Being a renowned spray artist and a romantic person he wanted his artwork to play an integral role during his proposal to Julia and what better place to do it than in Jamaica? This would see him spray painting a mural in a selected community. He sold his artistic idea to his cousin DP Claudette Carter who then shared it with the club and I.

“I grasped the idea with both hands and hastily advised that this would be the KCNK 2019-2020 major project,” Dr Campbell said, adding that COVID-19 restrictions and disaster risk management protocols led to further delays resulting in the project being executed now.

The project dubbed ‘Re-Creating a Beautiful downtown Kingston’ was planned by Carter, Distinguished Lieutenant Governor Beverley Thompson and Kiwanian Eleanor Jones and is a partnership between Kingston Creative and the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts (EMCVPA), funded by the CHASE Fund.

The initiative is a two-art project involving the training of staff and students of the EMCVPA in the art of spray painting. This was done online in March 2020 by Douglas.

Part two involves spray painting a mural on the walls of the Sangster’s Bookstore at the intersection of Mark Lane and Harbour Street, depicting the Kiwanis motto — Serving the children of the world. The mural was designed by Douglas and EMCVPA.

Miriam Hinds Smith, dean of the School of Visual Arts at EMCVPA, said it was important to understand the historical factors of murals and their execution within spaces to appreciate the significance of the project.

“If you look at the history in Mexico and any other spaces areas where there were social upheavals, where voices of individuals needed to be heard — murals were the principal points in which these ideas were communicated,” Hinds Smith said. “In trying to bring together the efforts of KCNK and their social intervention through the club’s ethos, we have been working with them mining on the ideas and things that they have been doing along with the creativity of the students coupled with the direction of Kingston Creative in terms of the drive from the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation [KSAC] to bring a rebirth to Kingston communicated through the mural.

Hinds Smith added: “It’s an opportunity that we are going to be executing the mural on the walls of the Sangster’s Bookstore and education is one of the key components to really bringing a new livelihood to downtown Kingston. The inhabitants of the spaces can see through education, through interaction, through social development how they too can aspire to a lot of what we tend to depict through murals. Sometimes the stories in murals are aspirational, sometimes they are narratives of things past and present, but the point is they are vehicles of communication.”

Robert Hill, CEO, KSAMC, said the project adds to the beautification, reconstitution and rethinking of the project of renewal of downtown Kingston.

“The murals have transformed the consciousness and mentality of persons who use this space. Many of us don’t understand the psychology that this transformation has caused. Downtown Kingston was once regarded as a hard, hard place to work, to live and to enjoy. With the introduction of these beautiful pieces of art, it has begun the transformation of thought and heart and mind and I believe these fit very well into the mantra of the Kiwanis Club of New Kingston where you wish to have particular involvement in children and how they themselves can reflect their own impressions of art through the artists that will be commissioned to do the work here,” Hill said, adding that a number of partnerships with the Mexican, Japanese and Indian embassies have resulted in murals in the space, which represents a fusion of international art with local art.

Latoya Aquart Foster, project manager at CHASE Fund, which donated $450,000 to the project, said the initiative falls within the United Nations Resolution which declared 2021 the International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development and offers an opportunity for creative experiences in this very challenging period.

Aquart Foster commended the collaboration between KCNK and Edna Manley College, adding that CHASE was pleased that the students could impact their surroundings in a positive way.

Doris Gross, director and art district lead of Kingston Creative, further lauded the initiative pointing out that downtown Kingston deserves respect and attention plus a carefully crafted plan to get the redevelopment going in an inclusive way.

The project is expected to be completed by the end of June.

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