|Burlington, VT: After a long winter of Covid-19-related shutdown, Burlington emerged with a serious unsanctioned tagging problem throughout the City. As businesses and social activities began to resume this spring and summer, ensuring a welcoming and safe atmosphere for the public became an immediate priority for the City as part of its pandemic recovery. A cross-departmental City team comprised of members from Burlington City Arts, the Burlington Police Department, Permitting and Inspections, the Church Street Marketplace, and the Burlington Community Justice Center quickly developed a plan to mitigate tagging on building facades and public spaces.
This plan included purchasing supplies to clean tagged areas, hiring a response team to remove tags swiftly, and installing murals to discourage unsanctioned graffiti. Juniper Creative, a Vermont-based BIPOC-owned arts business, has been commissioned to develop and paint a mural on 339 Pine Street, a City building that has been particularly hard-hit on its south and east facades.
“This particular mural project offers an opportunity to combat unsanctioned graffiti, support Juniper Creative’s unique talent and experience within graffiti culture, and bring new life and energy to Burlington’s creative corridor at this critical time of reopening for our City,” said Sara Katz, Assistant Director at Burlington City Arts.
Juniper Creative’s concept for the mural includes up to nine figurative images with pollinator wings, representing the artists’ Afro-pollinator theme in their Afro-futuristic style, incorporating Afro-Indigenous and native botanical elements, as well as youth poetry rendered in the artist’s handwritten style.
To further incorporate youth and community participation, the project will also include a community paint day at 339 Pine Street on Friday, July 23 from 3-5 pm, where participants can paint pre-cut shapes that will be collaged into the mural.
“We are so pleased to see the City’s efforts towards re-opening and revitalizing our neighborhoods has begun,” said Kara Alnasrawi, Executive Director at Church Street Marketplace. “We hope that these efforts will impact both individuals and businesses as we focus on the economic recovery.”
Juniper Creative Arts is a Vermont-based Black and Dominican family collective with a mission-driven practice of creating art that involves and celebrates historically excluded communities. They facilitate community mural projects with colleges and universities, K-12 schools, and community-based organizations, and educate on the history of muralism in the United States and the value of community murals and graffiti as forms of democratic art. They use visual art and murals to lift up the voices, images, and people that are often left in the margins. Juniper Creative consists of lead artist Will Kasso Condry, creative director and concept designer Jennifer Herrera Condry, and photographer and arts apprentice Alexa Herrera Condry. Their work centers on using mural arts as a vehicle for community-building, beautification, and healing.