Monday, July 21, 2014

25 SQ South Memphis Lead Artist Darlene Newman: A Portrait

25 SQ Mural by Darlene Newman, team artists and volunteers at Knowledge Quest in South Memphis, one of several projects in the neighborhood
By Alexis Becton

Memphis native Darlene Newman has been painting since 1998 and launched her own art studio in 2001. She was invited to be the lead artist for the 25 SQ Public Art Initiative in South Memphis in fall 2012, because of her past achievements and the required neighborhood residence for the project. Darlene received her Master of Arts in Illustration from Savannah College of Art and Design and graduated from Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana with a degree in Business Management. Prior to receiving the invitation to be the South Memphis lead artist for 25 SQ, she painted her first mural for the local AME Church and completed a series of architectural paintings based on Orange Mound neighborhood. Her work has been published in numerous magazines.
Darlene Newman leads the community discussion of vision and narratives for the 25 SQ Public Art Initiative murals at the third South Memphis charrette held at LeMoyne-Owen College's Walker House on March 9, 2013
Darlene Newman shares the same vision as the originators of the 25 SQ Public Art Initiative, which is to uplift the community through positive art: “I strive to bring a mixture of positive messages and spiritual concepts to life in my paintings.” says Darlene. The purpose of the mural is to target neighborhoods that have been suffering from economic disinvestment, something Newman hopes will decrease over time.
Darlene Newman and a fellow artist plan sequencing of plywood mural vignettes for empty buildings during the Paint Day held at the Stax to the Max festival on April 28, 2013
Newman invited other artists to join her in her efforts. Team artists are Henry Ford, Meredith Olinger, Artiek Smith, Nelson Smith, III and Amie Vanderford. Further, Cat Normoyle and her Memphis College of Art students also painted mural vignettes for a Knowledge Quest building. The artists have been assisted by volunteers of all ages on wall-size murals and mural vignettes for the Soulsville neighborhood. Public paint sessions took place at The Hub on August 3 – see the Facebook photo album, at the Stax Museum's Stax to the Max Festival on April 28, 2013 and on other dates. Children active with the non-profit Knowledge Quest and its community programs volunteered to assist with the painting of a mural. The Knowledge Quest mural at Jeannette Place has been completed as of October 18. It promotes unity and family with expressive colors and houses that represent the community.

Darlene Newman, 25 SQ lead artist for South Memphis, and Frank D. Robinson, 25 SQ lead artist for Binghampton, at their jointly organized Paint Day at Caritas Village on July 12, 2014
Darlene Newman reveals the philosophy behind her work: “Through my art I would like to educate people about the area, instead of seeing teddy bears hanging and ribbons as a memorial; people would like to learn more about the neighborhood from the art they see and see that this neighborhood still has hope.” Newman took great pleasure in working within her own neighborhood and is appreciative of the opportunity provided by the 25 SQ Public Art Initiative.


Interim Report, May 2013
Project Summary, Fall 2012
Soulsville Call for Participants, Spring 2013
Hart, Joe. "The New City-Makers." Public Art Review, Winter 2013. 50-55.
Focht, Karen Pulfer. "A Thousand Words." Commercial Appeal, Apr. 21, 2013. 5V
Phillips, Bianca. "Make Memphis." Memphis Flyer, Mar. 21, 2013

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