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Murals: Community Empowerment Through Self –Expression

“The walls are the printing press of the poor” Eduardo Galeano

Portraits taken by NECC students during Spring 2015 semester

Community murals are described as catalysts for empowering people by helping to redefine common values and reevaluate the community’s history which too often is ignored. Historically, social activists have recognized the transformative power of art and have acknowledged the profound connections between the arts, education and social change. It raises consciousness, nurtures multiculturalism, and fosters harmony.

In the 1960s, artists in Latino communities revived muralism as a form of public art to serve as an inspiration to overcome struggle, to reclaim their cultural heritage and as a mean to develop self-pride. Lawrence and Haverhill are two mill cities where residents have direct connections to multiple waves of immigrants. Migrants who struggle with poverty, but work hard in hope for a better future for their children and the generations that follow. To help with the difficult transition, communities have relied on education and civic engagement of our urban youth, and today, is no different. Local organizations like Elevated Thought are committed on using art and self-expression as a way to engage the youth and develop the pride necessary to accomplish our academic and professional goals. NECC has followed suit.

The College sponsored a collaboration with NECC students enrolled in photography courses and used the new Diversity/Inclusivity statement as inspiration for several large murals on campus. Under the direction of their Professors, they photographed people from their communities that they believe represent diversity. Those images were voted on by NECC faculty, staff and students. The top vote-getters will have their photographs turn into murals and installed in different locations on the Lawrence Campus. The mural’s embedded social and educational concepts will inspire conversation, engagement and an overall sense of pride.