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Grace Lutheran presents new mural highlighting diversity, environmental justice

A new mural highlighting diversity, equality, environmental justice and sustainability debuted Saturday at the Grace Welcome Center in Kenosha.



The Rev. Jonathan Barker speaks about how the community came together to paint the mural during the unveiling of the mural at Grace Welcome Center on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022.


SEAN KRAJACIC Kenosha News

The brightly colored painted image covering the center’s front entrance was created with the help of Milwaukee-based mural artist Tia Richardson. Richardson, who began working on the project over the summer, said she relied heavily on community involvement and hundreds of volunteers, many of whom helped paint and offered inspiration.

“This was truly a collaborative effort, a collective effort,” Richardson said. “It wasn’t just me. This isn’t something that I could do all on my own. I want to thank everybody who had a part to play in this.”

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Richardson said it was community members’ “time, energy and effort” that made the vision possible.



GRACE LUTHERAN MURAL UNVEILING

Members of the community put their hands on the mural as it is blessed during the unveiling of the mural at Grace Welcome Center on Saturday. The mural highlights diversity, equality, environmental justice and sustainability and involved the work of hundreds of volunteers.


SEAN KRAJACIC Kenosha News

“I appreciate being able to participate in this journey with you,” Richardson said.

“What we can see, if we look at the mural from left to right, are the feelings that were expressed by community members in the design process. The process offered people the chance to acknowledge the challenges in the community — we were focused on Uptown — and then think of choices they believe will help make it better, and then imagine a future as a result of those choices.”



GRACE LUTHERAN MURAL UNVEILING

The Rev. Jonathan Barker leads a prayer during the unveiling of the mural at Grace Welcome Center on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022.


SEAN KRAJACIC Kenosha News

Richardson said anyone who looks at the piece can “see their own thing in it.”

From her perspective, the left side of the mural depicts challenges represented symbolically by smoke that “signals the ending of something and beginning of something new.”



GRACE LUTHERAN MURAL UNVEILING

Tia Richardson, mural artist, puts her hand to her heart and bows her head as the crowd applauds her during the unveiling of the mural at Grace Welcome Center on Saturday.


SEAN KRAJACIC Kenosha News

“As our eye moves across we start seeing people doing things to help. The sky gets clearer, the sun starts coming out. We see people working together, rebuilding, fixing infrastructure, businesses open with healthy food, a tiny house, planting trees and more green spaces, marching together and supporting the different causes people care about,” Richardson said. “There is an overarching theme of climate justice we can see with the solar panels and wind turbines. We know more green spaces and a clean and healthy environment can help a person feel better.”

Lecturers of area residents, activists and local elected politicians attended on Saturday presentation at the Uptown welcome center, 2006 60th St. The event included a meal, music and tables with information regarding voting and community resources.

The mural was funded by a $10,000 donation from the Green New Deal Network and Working Family’s Party.

Richardson boasts more than 20 finished works across Milwaukee and Rockford, Ill.

More of Richardson’s work can be found on her website, cosmic-butterfly.com.

Local reaction

The Rev. Jonathan Barker, pastor of Grace Lutheran Church, said Richardson has “changed our community forever.”

“She’s transforming one community, one block at a time. She’s bringing people together,” he said.



GRACE LUTHERAN MURAL UNVEILING

Peter Barca delivers a message on behalf of Gov. Tony Evers during the unveiling of the mural at Grace Welcome Center on Saturday.


SEAN KRAJACIC Kenosha News

Barker said each part of the mural tells a story.

“I see a lot of things,” Barker said. “The first thing I see when I look at this mural are the hundreds if not thousands of hands that helped to paint it. … I see all the ways our community here in Kenosha came together, and the strength of our community after what’s been some challenging years. It’s amazing to look at this mural and feel the love, unity and connection here in Kenosha.”

Peter Barca, Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, read a letter on behalf of Gov. Tony Evers.

“I’m so disappointed I can’t be with you, but I am thrilled to support the incredible work that you all have accomplished,” Evers wrote.

“I want to commend the Grace Lutheran Church for the immeasurable work they’re doing in the Kenosha community, from advocating for climate and racial justice to registering people to vote and helping to feed families. It’s the best of Wisconsin. I also want to recognize artist Tia Richardson for all she’s done and all the people who came together to paint various sections of this just absolutely beautiful mural, and for creating a testament to the strength and resilience of the Kenosha community.”

Welcome center



GRACE LUTHERAN MURAL UNVEILING

The Rev. Jonathan Barker speaks about how the community came together to paint the mural during the unveiling of the mural at Grace Welcome Center on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022.


SEAN KRAJACIC Kenosha News

The Grace Welcome Center food pantry has been open nearly every day since it started in 2019. Staff and volunteers kept the pantry open through all weather conditions and even through the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Each Tuesday, the center’s food pantry provides over three tons of food to over 100 families.

The center also offers hot meals and showers each Thursday and Friday morning.

The pantry accepts non-perishable food items and is open for donation drop-offs Monday through Friday with varying hours, which are available online at https://gracewelcomecenter.org/about/. The pantry also accepts monetary donations by check or online.

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