The following post is from mural apprentice Jordan Karpe.
On one of our final days here in Arkadelphia the sky was threatening rain. The clouds were growing darker, and people passing by casually mentioned imminent inundation. Not a single drop fell though, and the mural was coated in varnish marking the completion of the project. After more than three months of living in town, I spent one of my last days frantically brushing clear coat plastic onto the wall and consequently myself. The smell wasn't too agreeable, and peeling it off my skin took awhile, but there was an immense moment of relief when it was done. My mind is wrapping itself around these last few months, the experiences, the friendships, and the lessons.
I've grown incredibly fond of this community mural process. It combines a lot of things I enjoy: people, public art, history, community, and lots of wonderful free food. But really just the idea that the work I've been a part of has evoked such positive responses gives me hope. The observations I've had on a living, breathing community has been fascinating. People are fascinating. Overwhelmingly the response to the mural has been supportive. So many individuals walk by and gaze upwards, chatting with their friends. Some are even brave enough to offer a kind word of encouragement. And the circumstances that helped formulate the design brought people together, and I saw people engaging with one another.
It's people engaging, not exchanging pleasantries, not smiling politely, but having conversations that instills hope in me. But I recognize how hard that can be. Everyone interacts differently, and each person comes equipped with a differing set of personal outlooks and ideas of conduct. Naturally, that can lead to some conflicts, but those conflicts aren't necessarily bad. This project has pushed people together, and I hope members of the design team maintain that air of camaraderie once Dave, Ashley, and I leave. I hope new friendships were formed in this community and that they persist. The mural is a testament to what a diverse group of people can accomplish. I hope the artists who contributed feel inspired to further collaborate. I hope all the self-identified non-artists feel empowered to be creative. A mural doesn't require a degree, or a pedantic grasp of terminology, or an expert, just people willing to engage. Dave certainly knows the ropes. He is no slouch of a painter, but I'm continually impressed by the way he engages with people.
I wish I had more time to personally thank all the gracious friends we've made. Each person from the design team and Group Living, to Dave and Ashley has brought light to my life. I could not imagine a better first project to learn from. Though there will be more murals, I can guarantee Arkadelphia will hold a special place. But for the moment, I'm ready to head home to see my dog.
- Jordan Karpe