Celebration held for Torrington’s civil rights mural
The recently completed mural depicts Martin Luther King Jr., John Brown, and the poet Amanda Gorman. A solemn ceremony for the mural was held on June 10th, Saturday June 19th.
TORRINGTON – On June 19, Saturday, June 19, the organization RiseUp For Arts hosted several events across the state to unveil Racial Equity Murals.
That year, murals depicting civil rights activists were painted in New Haven, Bloomfield, Manchester, West Hartford and Torrington.
In Torrington, RiseUp For Arts worked with various city organizations to create a mural of Martin Luther King Jr., Torrington-born abolitionist John Brown, and poet Amanda Gorman.
The mural was painted on a building at 42 Water Street, the location of WAPJ Community Radio.
The building is owned by Steven Temkin of Torrington Downtown Partners.
Several organizations worked with RiseUp For Arts to create the mural, including the Northwest Connecticut Arts Council and Our Culture is Beautiful.
An event was held at the Torrington event with multiple speakers from local organizations discussing the importance of the mural to Torrington.
The event included a performance of “A Change is Gonna Come” by Ysanne Marshal of the Arts Council, a multi-dancer performance from the Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory, and a drum circle by Angaza Mwando of Our Culture is Beautiful.
“This is what collaboration looks like,” said event director Jacque Williams of Culture 4A Cause at the start of the event. “That’s us: T-Town strong. Building a community of artists and craftsmen. “
The event served as a celebration of Juneteenth, the civil rights figures in the mural and Torringtons themselves.
“It was the art that drew me to Torrington 15 years ago,” said Amy Smith of Mental Health Connecticut’s Mending Art program. “When I came here, I found an amazing community with so many nice and caring people all working together to build a stronger community. I am very happy to call Torrington my home. “
The mural was created by artist Ben Keller, who created two other similar murals in the state.
“He did a great job using aerosol cans to paint this mural,” said Temkin. “No brush, no stencils, and this former dental practice has never looked like this before.”
“Today is about joy, happiness and peace and above all about love,” said Effie Mwando from the local organization Our Culture is Beautiful about the mural. “Today represents unity and is the beginning of great things in the city of Torrington.”