News Column

Teens, young adults create mural with peace in Pomona as the theme

August 20, 2014

By Monica Rodriguez, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Calif.



Aug. 20--POMONA -- Using vibrant colors and various symbols that represent Pomona and its history, a group of teens and young adults are creating a mural that conveys a message of peace.

The mural includes the images of orange trees, symbols of the city's agricultural history, and the foothills of the San Gabriel mountains. The word peace is written in the sky and messages of peace worked into other elements of the mural. In addition, room among the roots of the trees in the work will be painted with chalkboard paint allowing people who see it to add positive messages about peace.

Peace, in multiple languages, will also be part of the city emblem, which consists of six images of the letter "P" arranged in a circle.

"It really is a community mural with a community design," said Andrew Quinones, who in addition to being a professional artist is the director of mentoring, art and culture for the San Gabriel Valley Conservation Corps.

The mural, which is being painted on six, 8 foot by 4 foot wooden moveable panels, is an initiative of East/West Action, a gang intervention and violence mitigation program that started about a year ago in Pomona to address some of the city's needs, said Bill Martinez, the group's director.

Through the project, teens and young adults have a means to share their thoughts in a creative way, he said.

"It's a way to give them a voice," Martinez said.

A group of about 10 young people ages 15 to 20 are involved with the project, Martinez said. Some are young artists and others may have engaged in risky behavior.

The design for the mural came about through a collaborative process in which the participating young people contributed ideas that Quinones then wove together into one design.

This is the first of what is expected to be many more art projects that young people will create not only for the sake of producing public art but to give youth a way to be involved in the community and to express themselves.

"We have a number of talented youth but not enough outlets," Quinones said.

Through art "we can create a lot of positive messages in Pomona."

Among the young people who are involved in the mural project is Liselotte Marin, of Pomona. Marin is an art history major at Cal State San Bernardino and an artist who works mostly with acrylic paint.

Pomona resident Christian Ornelas, 17, a senior at the School of Arts and Enterprise in downtown Pomona is a young artist who has created metal sculpture in addition to producing pottery.

Both have been involved in mural projects before.

Marin was drawn to the mural project for several reasons, among them the fact the project is in her community and addresses violence.

"I think in a lot of my work I'm trying to send a message of equity and peace," said Marin, who aspires to become an art teacher in addition to continuing to producing art of her own.

Over the years Marin has met young people who have engaged in negative behavior.

When that has happened Marin has some words for them: "Friend, come hang out with me."

Marin has then introduced them to art and Pomona's Arts Colony, often with success.

"Everybody has a talent," she said.

Ornelas said art provides a means to express ones thoughts and feelings in a creative, non-violent way and the Arts Colony has many places where they will be welcomed and where they'll find people willing to offer artistic guidance.

"There are so many opportunities," he said. "There are plenty of places where they can go and get their feelings out."

Once completed the mural will travel around Pomona, said Martinez who added he is having conversations with Pomona Unified School District representatives about having the murals visit district schools.

Martinez's goal is to be able to take the mural to campuses from high schools to elementary schools.

The mural can spark conversations, he said.

"It's really to start a process," Martinez said. "It's something we can use in the process of promoting non-violence."

The project came about with the help of a $10,000 Tri-City Mental Health Services Community Wellbeing Grant.

The mural should be completed in time for it to go on display during September's Second Saturday Art Walk in Pomona, Quinones said.

If it's not possible to work out an arrangement with a local gallery then a formal unveiling will take place during an upcoming open house of the San Gabriel Valley Conservation Corps' YouthBuild Charter School campus in Pomona, he said.

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(c)2014 the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (Ontario, Calif.)

Visit the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (Ontario, Calif.) at www.dailybulletin.com

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Source: Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (CA)


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