Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The MLK Public Art Project, Charleston, W.V.

I love to paint, I love murals and I love Dr. Martin Luther King and his message of equality. So, when I found the Facebook post about an open to the public mural painting in our Capital City of Charleston, I knew Christopher and I were going to be there to paint too.

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Painting of Dr. Marting Luther King Jr. 

scale image of the MLK mural

Jeff Peirson Scaling the painting to size on the wall. Photo from The Office of Public Art Charleston WV Facebook page. 

This event was so wonderful as an Artist, a Mother, and West Virginian. I am so proud that the work of 60 volunteers will grace the skyline of Charleston for the next couple of decades and will remind people of the ongoing work we have to do in this world to fight for Beauty, Fairness, Love, and Equality.

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Christopher and I work on a section of Martin Luther King’s eye and nose. 

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Some of the volunteers that came to help with the mural and the man who I got paint all over. 

The mural was painted by volunteers in about 4 or 5 hours at the Martin Luther King  Jr. Community Center in downtown Charleston. The image will represent our diversity. The image uses diverse colors, is painted by diverse age groups, colors, shapes, and sexes of people from our state. It will rest on the roof of the community center and display the faces of 1000 diverse individuals in the background.  Each face is a self-portrait of one volunteer that helped to make it come to life.

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Jeff Peirson Director of The Office for Public Art explains how the project will be constructed. 

Under the direction of Jeff Peirson the director of  The Office for Public Art in Charleston, West Virginia. A painting of Dr. King has been blown up and traced onto large sheets of plastic canvas for volunteers to paint on. Using special paint the volunteers filled in numbers sections of the mural, much like a paint by number, but on a huge scale.  Christopher and I painted light purple and some orange over the course of the afternoon. It was amazing to paint an eyeball that was the size of a basketball and a nose that was almost as big as Christopher is tall.

image of MLK mural being put together

pieces of the mural displayed together to dry and adding the final coats of paint. From The Office of Public Art Charleston, WV Facebook page. 

 

Then when the sections were left to dry we were encouraged to paint a self-portrait in monochrome shades of purple. Each volunteer tried to paint what they thought they looked like. Christopher was quite unhappy with my drawing and said it looked nothing like me. He explained later that my hair was not right in the drawing or painting.  I did have my hair up and the only hair I had was waving wildly aroung my face, So it only showed part of my hair.

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My pencil self-portrait with hair up. Christopher says it needs more hair.   

Then that evening the large pieces were assembled and the overall look started to come together. There will be a blending of the colors with more paint next. Then about 800 school children will make a self-portrait on the canvas like material to create the background before the final installation is put up in late Aug. The mural should last about 15 years with no need for repairs.

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Christopher with his new friend Mayor of Charleston Amy Shuler Goodwin. 

While Christopher and I  painted we had the pleasure of working on the mural with the Mayor of Charleston, Amy Shuler Goodwin, who spent quite a while talking with Christopher about our state and why we drove 2 hours just to be part of the event. She told me she was so happy to have us come and help make our capital city a more beautiful place.

I loved meeting the people from the community and the Mayor, some were families, some were single men and women, and some were children but most lived nearby.  I even accidentally painted a man’s hand as we crisscrossed the canvas with our brushes and we laughed for several minutes. Christopher made instant friends and played and visited with about 6 other kids his age. It is my hope that sharing these kinds of experiences with him will encourage him to want to be part of a creative community when he grows up.

As the painting time ended we headed back to my car for a picknick near the MLK Jr. Community Center. We talked about how much fun we had and how important it is to share time with new people and how important Dr. King was to all Americans. This day was what Dr. King was teach us all those years ago. A day where all colors and ages come together to share in the joy of being American and creating a better place for us all.

On Aug 21st I am looking forward to the drive down I-64 to finally see our hard work come to life from way above the community center. It was a day I will not forget anytime soon and I hope Christopher has wonderful memories of our painting Dr. King together.

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Categories: Charleston West Virginia, Community Art, community service, Creative Place Making, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., family fun, family memories, Martin Luther King Jr., murals, Painting, The Office of Public Art, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Why a Life of Service is not a Job, But a Life Style

With my second term as an AmeriCorps  Service member half over and me reflecting on what my career plan should be. I have come to the conclusion that I want to keep in the service industry and hope to work for a nonprofit. I have committed to a lifestyle, not a job.

I have spent most of my adult life living on other people’s terms… go to college, get married, get a job, and have a family. Not that these ideas are bad, they just seemed to be a little boring. I have always been rebellious, adventurous with a love for life. I want a passion-filled life, with travel, new people and getting dirty trying new things. I want something more than the 9 to 5 with benefits that colleges promise. I want more from life than punching a time clock allows. Deep inside I want to make a difference in the world.

So at the complete worst time in my adult life after surgery, heartbroken about a personal loss, and feeling unqualified to do much with a Fine Arts Degree, I started looking for work. A writer friend inspired me to stop looking for a JOB and start looking for a lifestyle. A lifestyle that reflected what I really wanted. She helped me to see that what I was looking for was career fulfillment, not career advancement. How eye-opening that moment was for me.

During our visit she shared with me her “Year of Service Story” and introduced me to AmeriCorps, the Citizen Conservation Corps of WV (more often known as the three C’s) and Peace Corps. After our conversation, I realized that my skills and passions could all make a difference right here in West Virginia, the place I love most.

I have been fortunate to serve as an AmeriCorps Member in Elkins, West Virginia for the last 18 months where I work with AFHA (Appalachian Forest Heritage Area), a regional initiative to promote heritage tourism, conservation, and education based on forest heritage. AFHA, AmeriCorps is funded in part by Volunteer West Virginia, the state’s Commission for National and Community Service and by the Corporation for National and Community Service.  As a service member for AmeriCorps, I have had opportunities to meet, work with, and learn from some of the most interesting people in the state.  My Site, Elkins Main Street, is deeply committed to working with local and state government officials on projects that help to bring jobs, investment, growth and prosperity to our community.

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First Lady Joanne Tomblin and Elkins Main Street Director Karen Carper

At Elkins Main Street I work with community volunteers on making public art projects that preserve Appalachian culture and inspire people to take pride in their community. Working side by side with community groups like the Riverside School Association, to celebrate ethnic and social diversity, and cultural differences. Like the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Day celebration.

Mrs Chisum at the MLK event. 2016

Riverside School Ass. MLK Day Celebrations 2017

Also as part of my AmeriCorps duties, I am asked to take time regularly to see and experience the culture and history of the community where I serve. A person cannot begin to make significant changes to the future of a community without first understanding its past and present. We are encouraged to see a wide range of locations in our service area, from remote mountain locations to the largest cities and the oldest historic landmarks. For example, I traveled to the West Virginia Capital Complex to speak with Volunteer West Virginia about the role of the National Main Street Program.

 

Christopher runs the up the steps or the WV state Capitol 3-18

Christopher at the WV Capitol Building

 

Dominic and the AFHA team in the rain at Beaver Creek Mill

Dominic Piacentini at Bear Creek Grits Mill 1840 Summersville WV. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The AFHA AmeriCorps members are a team banded together over large expanses, doing the work of preserving and protecting the local environment, the history and culture of a people and encouraging travel and education about our unique locations.  AmeriCorps is a force for good in places where times are a little harder and people need a helping hand to build on their strengths. I am proud to say that I choose every day to be an AmeriCorps service member because I want something more than a job, I want a lifestyle making a difference.

Highlands trail clean up spring 2017

AFHA Americorps collecting trash along the Appalachian Highlands Trail 2017

 

 

Categories: AmeriCorps, Appalachian Mountains, community service, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Elkins Main Street, Elkins West Virginia, Monongahela National Forest, volunteering | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Sexy or Not My Family Has a Southern Accent

As many of you know I am not a native to West Virginia and grew up in Boulder Colorado. A place of almost no accent when speaking and a trait that is valued by the media. One of the things I treasure most about my family is their accent and choice of speech. I found my mother in laws accent endearing when she told stories about “putting up” the green beans from the garden or that her car was hit by a “buggy “at the IGA . She would tell us that she never enjoyed “beer joints” because of the drunks and “fightin”.  My husband likes to say “YOU ARE FIXIN TO GET A ASS WHIPPEN”when the kids have bugged him to losing his temper. Yet, while working with some of the Americorps members from farther south, I learned that having an accent is not always a thing people are proud of and that they have worked to lose it.  I have mixed feelings about people who train themselves to speak without an accent and who give up local language traditions. I wonder if we are losing something along the way?

I am not the only person who has wondered about this loss of accent. I had a nice conversation with a former English As a Second Language teacher recently who said that many her students also wondered why america is always trying make everyone look and sound the same. They wondered why in such a large place that we worked so hard to make even our towns and shopping centers look the same. We discussed how stereotyping works against southern kids and how West Virginia accents are viewed negatively outside the state. ” That southern accent makes you sound stupid” is still a very prevalent stereotype.

So when a person has an accent from the southern US, and they work extremely hard to lose that accent,what are we teaching them? Are we trying to say the place where you were raised has less value then someone who is from a place that has less of an accent less? Are the residents of the south less intelligent or less wise? Here is my point, some of our countries most intelligent and inspirational  and innovative people have come from the south and brought their accent with them, Mark Twain, Maya Angelou, William Faulkner, Harper Lee,Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Would we want Dr. King to lose his southern accent?… Does he sound dumb or uneducated when he speaks?  If  you have never heard Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” here is a very short sound bite of that speech from 1968. I am guessing that there is not a single person who hears this speech that thinks this man is lacking in education and should lose his manner of speech.

Often,  it is our differences that make us stand out and make a deeper impression on others. An accent can be used in the same way that our personal appearance and dress can be. An attractive, well-educated, warm person is always going to leave a great impression with or without a southern accent. I just happen to like my friends and family wrapped up in the slow southern drawl of the hills and hollows of my home. I prefer to hear an honest story-teller who uses the local langue of their home. I find  a person’s home-grown style of speaking more interesting and pleasant over something  filtered through the expectation of others.  So take it from Chad Prather who explains to everyone all about having a southern accent and how to be proud of it.

Even Conan O’Brien knows that truth about the sexy southern accent and how he is just out of luck in the sexy accent department. So just remember there is always someone out their who loves the way you sound and does not want you to change who you are!

 

southern accent is sexy

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Appalachian Mountains, Chad Prather comedian, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Southern Accent, Southern Speech, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

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