'Moringa the Medicine Woman' Mural Project | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

'Moringa the Medicine Woman' Mural Project 

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Luke Awtry
From left: Alexa Herrera Condry, Will Kasso Condry and Jennifer Herrera Condry of Juniper Creative Arts. "Involving the community in a co-creative process also gives community members a sense of ownership over the artwork," said Jennifer Herrera Condry. "They will defend it. They will protect it. They will speak on behalf of it, and they'll continue to tell the story so that it doesn't get lost."
Luke Awtry
Mercedes Mack grew up in Burlington and works as a DJ and writer, among other jobs. She was the model for the "Moringa the Medicine Woman" mural. "To me, it means the unstoppable nature of the people I come from. The only option is for me to bring forward the greatness of my lineage," Mack said. "I have memories of being on North Street in high school and having cops follow me. But no matter the circumstances, I just can't be stopped."
Luke Awtry
An image of what the “Moringa the Medicine Woman” mural will look like in its finished state. “We believe the way that we can liberate ourselves is through our imagination,” said mural artist Will Kasso Condry. “You’ve got to imagine a life you want, no matter how fantastical.”
Luke Awtry
Julia Ciotti of Burlington, an assistant with Juniper Creative Arts, cutting out shapes for community members to paint. “At the center of it, it’s love and it’s spreading a message that people need to hear,” Ciotti said. “As the mother of a Black child, especially, it’s important to me that they know they are seen and they are powerful — and they have abilities they can tap into.”
Luke Awtry
Amir Mohamed, 18 months old, coloring a Juniper Creative Arts dragonfly with the help of his mother, Holly Barnett, of Burlington. “Black folks are endangered; pollinators are endangered,” said Jennifer Herrera Condry of Juniper Creative Arts. “Yet we’re seeing a generation of young folks who are also representing hope, who just want to live free and be free.”
Luke Awtry
Jennifer Herrera Condry (left) of Juniper Creative Arts at community paint day for the new mural at the ONE Community Center. "Our role is really to encourage people taking their own creative risks," said Herrera Condry. "Every line, everything they think is a mistake is really an opportunity for a new idea to emerge."
Luke Awtry
Artist Will Kasso Condry filling in the outline of Juniper Creative Arts' new mural on the ONE Community Center. "We're also liberation advocates," said Jennifer Herrera Condry. "When we think of these young folks and the work that they're doing and what they're hoping for, we felt it was our duty to make sure that we could show them through the public art that they are valued and they are seen, and their work matters, that their lives matter — especially in the Burlington area."
Luke Awtry
Jenny McNamara (left) and Trish Melton of Burlington painting shapes for the mural. “I said, ‘I want to be a part of that!’,” Melton said. “I liked that it is Afro-indigenous. I also liked the fact that it’s about pollinators and that they’re including people in the community. It’s like you leave a little bit of yourself with everyone you meet.”
Luke Awtry
The new Juniper Creative Arts mural in process at the ONE Community Center during last Saturday's Ramble event. With their Afro-pollinator series, Jennifer Herrera Condry said, "The community gets to make their own individual artwork that makes up the patterns of the wings. Each one is unique, but the community voice is feeding into it to make a collective whole."
Luke Awtry
“I went to this school. I remember when there was a nun’s home right here,” said Kindra Lundie of Burlington, who was selling her handcrafted jewelry at the Ramble. “I’ve been following Juniper. Their work is just wow. It’s a statement. It feels like they’re creating something that’s watching over the community.”
Luke Awtry
Close to 100 community members painted shapes with a cosmos theme — diamonds, stars, crescent and full moons — that will be collaged together in mosaic wings for the luna moth in Juniper Creative Arts' new ONE Community Center mural. "I love living here," said Rachel Ribis as she painted. "It'll be nice to look at this in future and remember doing this."
Luke Awtry
A community member painting a piece of parachute cloth that will become part of the collaged luna moth wings in the new ONE Community Center mural. The Afro-pollinator series is "also us trying to raise awareness around our need to get back to indigenous practices of stewarding the land and living in mutuality with the natural environment," said Jennifer Herrera Condry.
Luke Awtry
Alexa (left) and Jennifer Herrera Condry of Juniper Creative Arts with a table full of community members painting pieces for the new ONE Community Center mural. “One of the things that we do through these projects is build confidence,” explained artist Will Kasso Condry. “You're literally contributing to a piece of art that's going to be a part of the landscape of Burlington for many years to come.”
Luke Awtry
Mercedes Mack, who grew up in Burlington's Old North End, is the model for the new mural, "Moringa the Medicine Woman." "We've been wanting to paint Mercedes' image for a while," said artist Will Kasso Condry. "That's the biggest feeling of euphoria for us...to put Mercedes up, her being from here and the reputation she has here. Like, everyone speaks about her with a smile."
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Luke Awtry
Mercedes Mack grew up in Burlington and works as a DJ and writer, among other jobs. She was the model for the "Moringa the Medicine Woman" mural. "To me, it means the unstoppable nature of the people I come from. The only option is for me to bring forward the greatness of my lineage," Mack said. "I have memories of being on North Street in high school and having cops follow me. But no matter the circumstances, I just can't be stopped."