Local youth groups and a local artist create a mural to showcase the diversity of the area.
The mural, designed by local artist Jason Flack, will be installed at the Legion Street Pool in Johnson City.
The “Sounds of Our Soul” community mural was designed by Flack with Slocumb Galleries community engagement educator Lyn Govette, and was funded by the East Tennessee Foundation’s Hope in Action fund as part of the Mixed America project of East Tennessee State University Tipton and Slocumb Galleries. .
The mural depicts local and notable musicians Amythyst Kiah, Jose Castillo, Fiddling Leona, Ed Snodderly and Daniel Bigey. This group recognizes local talent and represents a culturally diverse group.
Flack, who is himself from the Black, Latino and Native American communities, chose to portray these individuals because of the bonds and friendships they share as members of minority groups as well as their impacts on the local community.
“Not everyone sees themselves drawn, especially that way,” Flack said.
The artist said that around 40 to 50 children have been able to take part in the project and said he hopes that – even if only one of them is a future artist – an opportunity like this has allowed them to discover the importance of art.
Flack says it wasn’t available to him here as a kid.
“When I arrived here, there were no accessible artists. The art of public thought was mostly vandalism,” Flack said, “not that it came from your soul and that it could actually change and make a life you know, save a life, because it saved the mine.
Rise Up!, Girls Inc, Carver Center, Girl Scouts of Southern Appalachian Troop 978 and the University School are among the organizations participating in the project. Members of the Filipino, Latina and Black communities were also among those who participated.
Karlota Contreras-Koterbay, director of the Tipton and Slocumb Galleries, said project partners include ETSU’s Department of Art and Design, Langston Center, Language and Cultural Resource Center, Black American Studies, ETSU Foundation, Multicultural Center, ETSU Blue and Gold Committee. in coordination with Johnson City Parks and Recreation and the Johnson City Public Art Committee.