Another public work of art was recently unveiled on the East Side of the city. This time the Albright-Knox enlisted the help of artists Keir Johnston and Ernel Martinez to work alongside the community to create Welcome Wall. The colorful work of art features the word “welcome” in 13 languages – Arabic, Bengali, Burmese, English, Farsi, French, German, Polish, Seneca, Spanish, Somali, Urdu, and Vietnamese.
Johnston and Martinez both hail from Philadelphia, the land of murals. Together, they founded Amber Art and Design. One of their goals is to bring social issues to light, through the powerful medium of publicly displayed art.
As with other mural projects underway in Buffalo, this project utilized Polytab material, or ‘parachute cloth’, which can be painted off-site before being applied onto a building at a later date. A series of “Public Paint Days” were established, which allowed community members to play a part of the formation of the mural. The process is a bit like ‘paint by numbers’, where the artists sketch designs onto the material (using a projector in many cases) and then invite people to come fill in the objects. The result is a community-driven work of art that represents the neighborhood where it is hung.
The art initiative was made possible thanks to a number of community stakeholders, including Broadway Fillmore Neighborhood Housing Services and Common Council Member David Franczyk. The mural is located at 751 Fillmore Avenue.
AK Public Art mural projects are generously underwritten by the New Era Cap Foundation. The mural is part of the AK’s super successful Public Art Initiative.
Lead image: Keir Johnston and Ernel Martinez’s Welcome Wall, 2017, at 751 Fillmore Avenue. Photograph by Tom Loonan. Courtesy of the AK.