The Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association’s (DNDA) Youngstown Cultural Arts mural project, completed in August 2014, was the final phase of a two year project to address graffiti plaguing South Delridge. The project was made possible in part by a grant from the Work Readiness Art Program (WRAP). WRAP, a youth focused granting program, in collaboration with the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative (SYVPI), provides funding to arts, cultural and community organizations that link arts learning and work experiences for Seattle youth ages 12 to 18 years old.
From July 14 to August 14, 2014 a large scale collaborative mural was installed along the parking lot retaining wall at the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, directly across the street from the Delridge Skate Park. DNDA and Youngstown staff collaborated with professional artists, youth, and community stakeholders to create the design and paint the 210 foot wall, adding depth, color and art along the busy thoroughfare.
Eight students worked to develop art skills under the instruction of local artists Louis Chinn and Sara Ferguson, who guided the students through the design and painting process. They visited local historical sites and public artworks to learn about the art and history of West Seattle. Afterwards students prepared their initial design ideas and presented them to a panel of city officials, community leaders, and Youngstown residents. They took questions and feedback from the panel, and incorporated what was discussed into their final designs. Student participants not only got to explore their artistic talents while engaging with their community, but also learned valuable job skills they can draw upon throughout their lives.
We asked David Bestock, director of the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center about the highlights of the project:
- The completed mural reflected the community and history of the area, and further established an artistic and cultural identity for Delridge.
- Created from youth-generated ideas, it also tells a story of environmental justice along the Duwamish River, and participants benefited from collaborations with the Duwamish Tribe and Longhouse.
- The community loved the vibrant and expressive mural and the ribbon cutting ceremony was very well attended and covered by local media.
- In addition, a group of youth enrolled in a RecTech media program at the Delridge Community Center used the creation of the mural as an opportunity to create a documentary, further increasing the impact of the project.
Last year WRAP invested $162,274 in 11 programs that engaged and trained youth as this program did. WRAP applications are currently open for the 2015 cycle and close on April 1. For more information about programs or to apply go to: http://www.seattle.gov/arts/funding/youth_employment_program.asp
Photo credit: Jenny Crooks