Sharon Dowell – The Standard at Columbia Mural
Columbia, South Carolina
The arts have always played a crucial role throughout history from being cathartic to challenging, allowing people to work through emotions and grapple with change in creative ways. In 2014, St. Louis became synonymous with one word, Ferguson.
The issues brought to light in Ferguson of racial inequity helped launch the national Black Lives Matter movement. Michael Brown’s death set off a spiral of events at the time. This led to community soul searching and protests, as well as property destruction affecting many minority and immigrant owned businesses and restaurants.
However, something else powerful emerged on these same streets – grassroots Painting for Peace movement. With boarded up windows that made businesses appear closed, many were struggling to survive in the upheaval. In response, several St. Louis artists gathered their friends and families armed with nothing more than a paintbrush, paint and an idea.
The miles of plywood that lined the streets of Ferguson and St. Louis City became a canvas for artists to process what they and the community were going through by telling stories, creating beauty, commenting on society and even demanding social change.
Recognizing the importance of this moment and the healing effect that the art was having, Ferguson native and writer, Carol Swartout Klein first captured the images and the story in the children’s book “Painting for Peace in Ferguson.” The nationally award-winning book, which donates all profits back to North County area art, education or youth-related non-profits.
The fact that these murals have found a home here at the Delmar Divine, an ongoing catalyst for change, is a full circle moment. I hope this art inspires those who pass through these doors to realize what can be accomplished when we reach across the boundaries that divide us to make something beautiful.Carol Swartout Klein