Black Abundance Mural Unveiled in Downtown Pittsfield
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Contact: Jen Glockner, City of Pittsfield Office of Cultural Development
Phone: (413) 499-9348
Email: [email protected]
Black Lives Matter Art Committee Commits to Ongoing Art Projects in Pittsfield
PITTSFIELD, MA (June 2022) – The Black Lives Matter Art Committee, a partnership between Black community members, Artscape and the City of Pittsfield, announces two art installations to kick-off the Juneteenth Weekend. Commemorative events ranging from a musical celebration of Black history to festivals and art celebrations are expected to take place throughout the weekend in Pittsfield.
The weekend began this afternoon with the unveiling of a mural, “Black Abundance,” by artist Frances Chlöe Jones-Whitman on the south side of the Adlib Building at the corner of Columbus Avenue and North Street. Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer and Jones-Whitman both spoke at the press event this afternoon at Persip Park. The mural is a Mount Rushmore-style depiction featuring past and present notable leaders in the black community including: W.E.B. Dubois; Elizabeth Freeman; Samuel Harrison; Agrippa Hull; Dr. Frances Jones-Sneed; James Van Der Zee and Stephanie Wilson.
The mural is an homage to notable Black leaders, both past and present, who have done great things and are a symbol of Black Excellence, said Jones-Whitman, a 22-year-old who graduated from college in March of 2020 at the height of the pandemic.
For the last three years, Jones-Whitman has resided in North Adams with her mother and grandmother and is happy to call the Berkshires home. After not feeling comfortable going into the job market after COVID, she began doing freelance art and started an at home sewing business, Sedie’s Designs.
Adlib, Inc., owns the building where the mural will be installed. The organization provides independent living and specialized services for people with disabilities in Berkshire County and empowers people with disabilities to live more independently and have control of their own lives. Executive Director Marco Ingoglia said that partnering with the Black Lives Matter Art Committee was a natural collaboration in fitting with the organization’s mission.
The piece good luck out there by artist Salief Lewis was also installed at Persip Park in the summer of 2021 on the corner of Columbus Avenue and North Street.
Lewis created the piece from acid etched steel and angle iron. good luck out there was created from a process of extraction; the phrase was repeatedly etched into the underlying steel. The message it delivers is a reflective statement, directed in part at itself as it endures time, its participants, and the surrounding environment.
good luck out there appears erratically across the metal canvas. Alongside the words are artifacts of the hyper-weathering process. Its assembly is the execution of a range of imperfect processes and gives evidence to uncertainty as an operating condition. The message of the work reverberates between artist, audience, and the world. It addresses the volatility of our lives and social environment. Follow @salieflewis for more information.
Since its inception in the spring of 2020, Black Lives Matter Art Committee Members have said that they hope that the art projects will empower, solidify and educate the Pittsfield community.
“While it’s important that we recognize and honor the memories of victims, we must also celebrate the lives and contributions of black individuals who have had a meaningful impact on American culture through the years,” says Olivia Nda, a member of the Black Lives Matter Art Committee. “In Berkshire County, we have a rich black history, but it’s one that’s not always told. The Jones-Whitman’s mural is a dynamic visual that will shine a well-deserved spotlight on past and present figures in the region, and serve as a spark to keep the conversation going.”
“The City of Pittsfield is deeply proud to be a part of the Black Lives Matter Art Committee. During the spring and summer months of 2020, we saw how the fight for justice and change drew thousands to streets across our nation,” said Mayor Linda Tyer. “Here in Pittsfield, community members from all walks of life, backgrounds, and ages came together in solidarity and raised their voices for change. Two years later, we continue to honor the significance of this movement and the diligent work of this committee through inspiring and transformational works of art.”
The Black Lives Matter Art Committee Members include: Katherine Blay Tandoh; Justinnajah Clark; Auric Enchill; A.J. Enchill; Dan Joslyn; Jen Glockner; Gerdlie Jean-Louis; Shiobbean Lemme; Roberta McCulloch-Dews; Olivia Nda; Jake Paris; Abby Powers; Amin Purry; Alex Reczkowski; Fleur Sereko; Deonte Young and Catherine VanBramer.
Projects are ongoing with future planned calls for art and installations throughout 2022 and beyond. If you are interested in joining the Black Lives Matter Art Committee, please contact Jen Glockner at [email protected].
The Juneteenth celebrations continue throughout the weekend:
Black Legacy Project Premiere Film Screening at the Colonial Theatre
Official Unveiling of the Pops Peterson Walk With Her Mural hosted by the West Side Legends
Juneteenth Celebration at Durant Park
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