A note from Yasamin Safarzadeh, Program Director at Kimball Jenkins:
I want to take a moment to share my excitement with this one-of-a-kind program conceived by artist Richard Haynes, MyTurn and ourselves here at Kimball Jenkins. We have come together with 15 brilliant students to conceive and execute a mural that encapsulates the themes of equity and inclusion. We want our interns to continue to utilize our networks and resources and Manchester InkLink has been wonderful enough to create an ongoing space for these young artists to continue to publish their work and receive compensation for such work; comics, press releases, articles, insights and so on! Without further ado, our first installment.
CONCORD, NH – We started at Kimball Jenkins as interns being incentivized to do so because the programs are paid internships. MyTurn received funding in order to make sure that we were compensated for our work.
Soon, though, we all realized the opportunity of working with other talented individuals to learn from each other, and our different backgrounds would surely create a new experience none of us expected. We don’t really think about the fact that everyone comes from different places. We like the fact that they’re new people who are sharing similar interests with us.
The first day we walked into the Kimball Jenkins mansion we were all nervous, but surprised to see the beautiful campus we would be working in for the next six weeks. Now four weeks into the program we have not only gained knowledge about ourselves, but the importance of diversity, which is the message we are trying to spread, through the goal of creating this 19-by-39- foot mural. We were also expecting a space that was empty, but all the summer campers and activity makes us feel a sense of belonging and community.
Because we are a few and do not speak for our entire cohort, we would like to interject this story with some direct quotes from our peers:
“I was at MyTurn and a few of my friends from the program told me about this work opportunity. I was confused at first but then when I actually had the job – I walked in totally blind. I had no clue who was going to be onsite until we actually got on the bus together to drive from Manchester to Concord. I really didn’t understand what was going on. Honestly, I was surprised that it was a big mansion. Every day we kept coming onsite it began to become easier and easier. I keep coming back for the money, for my friends. Honestly, I would rather make money with my friends than alone. I’m so excited to see myself, and my peers, work on the mural. But I feel like some of my friends are nervous to start painting our work that will hopefully be presented to a lot of people.” – Blad Santos
“The range of emotions I have had for the past few weeks has been an up and down spiral. Sometimes I would feel claustrophobic, sometimes happy and joyous. Yes, KJ gives me the tools I need, but sometimes I am squished between two people. They provide us with an array of different foods for lunch and snacks. I do feel accepted for the majority of the time, but when I’m working with more than one other person, I do feel like my voice hasn’t been heard. Slowly but surely, I am learning the tools to claim my space in conversations and various settings. I hope that the rest of this project will go smoothly and that the artwork will be something glorious. I hope that after all this, I will have the experience to have a good paying job in the future.” – Gabi Bourgeous
“My experiences in Concord High School have been very stifling and homogenous and I always feel out of place. I am here because of the promise of a truly inclusive and diverse space. I love art and meeting new people. I would imagine this program is good for me as well. I’m really nervous. This isn’t like any other job… like working at fast food. I imagine I get more from this.” – Ava Conlon
“I really like working with the crayons because it reminds me of my childhood, although at first I wasn’t sure it would turn out well. At Kimball Jenkins we have all been able to be comfortable with one another, and not only work all day, but also have fun with activities outside of what we are doing here.” – Divine McCall
The purpose of the mural we are in the process of creating is to show that equity, and empathy for others, can change the world. We hope that people see our mural and possibly rethink how they view society and feel a sense of understanding for people in our community in Concord, and Manchester.
Richard Haynes is an artist helping us through the task of independently making the potential designs of the painting. We started by simply finding images that related to the point we are trying to convey. We approached the creation of our designs by tracing the images we each chose, then to be colored in with professional art crayons made by Caran D’ache. With the financial help of companies such as MyTurn, DHHS, NH Charitable Foundation and Northeast Delta Dental we were able to use nice materials, have transportation and are provided lunches.
We spend our time learning about mural conception and going out of our comfort zone to use bold, complementary colors that will stand out on the wall it will be painted on.
Additionally, in order to make a mural in a cultural arts complex, we have learned about social media literacy, and marketing tactics, along with skills to host events, speaking engagements, we have learned how to write press releases, and create graphics to advertise our work, etc. We are also grateful for the help we have gotten from professionals like Kate Sullivan, Victoria Carrington, Saad Hindal, Zach Palmer, Jasmin Torres, Carlos Baia, and many more to come.
On August 18 we interns are hosting an event at Kimball Jenkins from 6- 7:30 p.m. to reveal the mural to the public. All of our individual, final drawings done in crayon will also be framed, and put on display. On top of that, Cozy Throne will be performing, we will be speaking about our experience and there will be light fare to look forward to.
Now, four weeks into the program, we have not only gained knowledge about ourselves, but the importance of diversity, which is the message we are trying to spread, through the experience of creative place-making.
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