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The Power of Community Art: Pride and Hope

One town's wall mural illustrates the power of public art. (Lacy Hale)
One town's wall mural illustrates the power of public art. (Lacy Hale)
January 5, 2017

JENKINS, Ky. – Brush stroke by brush stroke, a huge mural has come to life in one small Kentucky town - an example, says the project's main artist, of how community-created art can help revitalize a place.

The project’s primary artist, Lacy Hale, said the mural on the railroad trestle in Jenkins illustrates how art can stir a community's pride in its past and hope for its future.

"Just something for people to be proud of, to say 'I worked on,’” Hale said. "It touched on the history and symbolically toward the future of this town."

She said the project began with community design meetings last summer and took six months to complete. Dozens of people, from school children to senior citizens, helped paint the 10-by-45-foot mural.

"We had over 60 people that worked on it and the age range was from seven to, I believe, 84,” Hale said.

The project is one part of an Our Town grant to Appalshop from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Photo banners have been placed throughout Jenkins, and another mural is planned for this spring. A historical walking and driving tour also is in the works.

Like many rural towns in Kentucky, Jenkins is searching for ways to revitalize its economy, and Hale said engaging a community's citizens in projects like this illustrates the contribution art can make.

"People stop and ask questions and talk about it,” she said. "That's one of the keys of switching the way people think about the arts and moving into more of an appreciation."

Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY