Through the eyes of a teenage volunteer

I had my first experience helping out with Arts in the Alley this April. In a weekend, we painted a large mural in Jackson Ward. Over just 48 hours, a rundown wall in an unkempt spot was turned into a bright and pretty work of art.

I showed up late Saturday morning and was immediately put to work setting up scaffolding. While working I was able to chat with some of the other volunteers: all friendly, interesting, and passionate people. I almost felt out of place being there for community service hours. We worked hard, but it was fun, putting together and moving all the scaffolding up, while others chipped old paint off the wall. Climbing up high was fun, and I was engrossed in my chipping when I unfortunately had to go.

The following day I returned to see a good amount of the wall painted. Right away I grabbed a bucket and clambered up the scaffolding. I painted all over the wall, outlining the dancing figures in bright hues of blue, yellow, and green. Though painting a large wall with a relatively tiny brush sounds tedious, it was quite fun, due in no small part to the group effort and enthusiasm. To see a project coming together so wonderfully was truly incredible. After painting the big mural, I went to roll paint over another, smaller mural around the corner: a wonderful rendition of some jazz musician, paying homage to Jackson Ward’s rich musical history. The work was hard, and the sun was hot; however, it couldn’t have been more worth it.

Though I came for no reason other than to log mandatory community service hours, I came away with pride and a sense of accomplishment. Just two days of work totally changed the look and mood, and a previously somewhat bleak block was transformed into a bright, happy feeling spot. Everytime I drive by I feel this pride, and I believe that the subconscious psychological effect of beauty, aesthetics, and art is stronger than most would think.

Ches Goodall

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