Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Pine Hill Mural Inspires

By Katie Whitfield

The dedication celebration of the Pinehill Community Center mural is scheduled on Friday, June 20, 12-2pm. Free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

Along the side of Pine Hill Community Center, a bright and inspiring painted message is delivered on Alice Avenue. The mural is part of the recent inaugural District Mural Program, facilitated by the UrbanArt Commission for the City of Memphis Public Art Program. Titled, "This is My Song,” the artwork was brought to life by artists Chad Irwin and Kyle Taylor who explained: "The title is intended to capture the sentiments of the neighborhood surrounding the Community Center and is meant to represent what the center aspires to be." Utilizing both the pursuit of education and the struggles faced obtaining it; the artwork displays a story of life balance and determination. It offers a blend of youth and the elderly, signaling hope for the future.

The Pine Hill Community Center was chosen after a review of potential sites. After the location was confirmed, meetings were held to determine the vision for the mural. Working together with the community and the center directors the artists focused on education and "a life well-lived" were to be central focus of the mural. Rory Campbell, Director of Pine Hill, wanted to “see the community coming together as a whole.” The mural displays just that message: it depicts the cycle of ages within a seamless unity.  The central figure is a young man who peacefully holds music to his ears. Surrounded by diplomas, books and ribbons on one side, he is balanced by a newborn, a young woman and a serene elderly woman on the other side. Rory Campbell states the importance of the elderly in the community. "They help the kids stay away from gangs and other troubles." He understands how the elderly in the neighborhood can influence these children and direct them down a positive path. The community center and its directors are constantly raising awareness against violence. For example, in spring 2014, Pine Hill was visited by the Heal the Hood Foundation. The non-profit organization is designed to heal broken communities through the power of unity.

The Pine Hill mural has been well received by the community center users and its neighborhood. Campbell shared his delight at the compliments from children visiting the center, from neighbors and other onlookers. The mural is revered as a positive stamp on the community center, physically and emotionally. Its message is best summarized by Campbell's motivation for his job: "My job is about showing the youth that people care, it's about taking time to listen to what the young are saying, and to show them love. This is why the community center directors do what they do…to show the kids compassion." The Pine Hill mural shares this benevolent message.

Read more about the "This Is My Song" mural by Chad Irwin and Kyle Taylor at Pine Hill Community Center.

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