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Community mural project begins Friday, centers on idea of respect

Posted: May 4, 2011 - 7:36pm

Appreciating the creativity of others is a given on First Friday. This month, art walkers will also have a chance to contribute some creative energy of their own, while contemplating a key aspect of a healthy community: respect.

A community mural project, steered by a team of middle- and high-school leaders, will be underway in the JACC main room during First Friday festivities. Young leaders, with the help of local artist Sarah Conarro, will guide locals in their artistic contributions to the mural while engaging in discussions and activities that explore the idea of respect.

The project has been organized by AWARE in conjunction with Lead On, a division of the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. Participants need not be victims of domestic violence or sexual assault to contribute, said AWARE’s Ati Nasiah. Rather, the mural is open to everyone and is designed to celebrate the things Juneau community is currently doing to promote the idea of respect.

“The whole idea is its strength-based,” Nasiah said. “It’s less about violence and more about respect.”

The students who are heading up the project all attended a youth leadership summit this past fall through Lean On. The summit brings together kids from all over the state and helps them “solve the puzzle” of violence in their communities. The youth leaders that complete the summit go back home to carry out projects in their own communities; the mural is the Juneau team’s project.

In planning the mural, the kids have been meeting once a week, discussing their ideas about respect and getting input from others. Conarro, in addition to proving her artistic expertise, has been helping the kids figure out how to represent abstract concepts in the art piece.

Those who add to the mural Friday can participate in several written activities that encourage contemplation about the meaning of respect, our reactions to violence in the community, and ideas about the basics behind building respect in our communities and within our own lives.

The community mural will be in progress at the following times:

• First Friday May 6, from 5-7 p.m. at the Juneau Arts & Culture Center.

• Monday, May 9, from 3:30-5:30 p.m. at AWARE

• Saturday May 21,  10 a.m.-3 p.m. as part of Community Day on Campus at UAS.

Nasiah said there may also be an in-house art workshop planned for victims of domestic violence or sexual assault; those interested in finding out more should contact AWARE at 586-6623.

The completed mural, which is expected to be about 160 square feet, will be unveiled at a celebration that has not yet been scheduled.

For more information contact AWARE 586-6623.

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