Trenton muralists have turned the City of Trenton in a canvas with an unlikely theme: a review of the year 2020.
From the first appearance of the pandemic to the Black Lives Matters protests to medical first responders to an urgent mail-in presidential election, Trenton artists have taken to the streets and walls of the capital city to seize the moment — with two artistic efforts standing out.
First, “We are Survivors” is street artist Leon Rainbow’s series that began as a deep reaction.
“When the crisis first started, like many, I was scared,” says Rainbow. “The concept for the original ‘We are Survivors’ mural just popped into my head one night.”
He followed the impulse to encourage others by creating a mural on a wall he frequently works on at the intersection of Hudson and Clinton streets in the Chambersburg section of Trenton.
According to project background information, the Trenton Downtown Association (TDA) organizers were affected by the artist’s important statement and “stepped in to sponsor the creation of two more, made possible with continued funding from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and NJM Insurance.”
The second mural was created at Sprout University School for the Arts at 27 East Paul Street and visually blends the themes of education, art, and technology with the need to be resilient. And a third is located at the intersection of Perry and South Broad streets and celebrates essential workers.
The other significant project is a four-part mural at Artworks Trenton that organizers say was created “in solidarity with the goals of justice and racial equity advanced by the Black Lives Matter movement across the country.”
The work pays “homage to Trenton citizens who participated in peaceful demonstrations this past summer in protest of unnecessary police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others before them, and in recognition of the fact that the nation still needs to acknowledge and address institutional racism at all levels of society.”
The black and white work is based on images taken by Trenton photographer Habiyb Shu’Aib at the May 31 Black Lives Matter protests in Trenton.
The mural artists are Quentin “Kwenci” Jones, Jonathan “Lank” Conner, Roy Haynes, all of Trenton, and Andre Trenier of Bronx, New York.
The panels facing Stockton Street were framed into a cohesive whole, with lettering by Trenton artist and Zienowicz Sign Company member Wills Kinsley.
The above two projects complement several other recent Trenton mural projects that include Murals on Front, an annual TDA-funded summer mural project and a one-panel mural painted by Rainbow and Trenton artist Sophie Ban to bring healing to community members dealing with a deadly virus, recent riots, and shootings.
The works are all available for viewing online.