“Unify, Decolonize, Thrive” is a mural that is collective and collaborative in both its message and its process. Queer and trans youth from across the county were involved in the design, a 70-foot-long visual story that moves through time, from the early battles for equality, through a shifting crossroad, to images of a future that embraces the fruits of intersectional activism.

The project, to be installed at Louden Nelson Community Center, is led by our Youth Coordinator, Jamie Joy, and is a collaboration that includes DC staff, artists (the talented mural artists Manny Garcia and Oliver Whitcroft), Arts Council Santa Cruz County, Beth Tobey & Santa Cruz City Arts, and Louden Nelson Community Center.

“The kids that I work with, they hold multiple identities; they’re not just thinking about the fact that they’re gay or trans or gender non-conforming. They’re also thinking about their families’ citizenship status and they’re also thinking about their class status and their mental health and they’re thinking about other issues that affect them also,” said Jamie Joy. “The way that I understand intersectionality is just being aware of multiple identities and how they impact someone’s privilege or lack of privilege in the world."

POSTED: 08/02/17, 4:41 PM PDT
Original Post here

SANTA CRUZ >> Dancers move to the tune of drumbeats on a heavily wooded shoreline while police officers practice yoga and a multiethnic group sails off together into the sunset.

In coming weeks, a new public mural, “Unify, Decolonize, Thrive” will take shape down a once ivy-covered wall bordering the Louden Nelson Community Center along Laurel Street. By the end of the 70-foot painting, Santa Cruz history steeped in slavery, seizure of tribal lands, Chinese indentured labor and Japanese internment camps of World War II will have evolved into a literally more colorful future where “we’re all in this together.”

Local teenager and mural collaborator Andrea Flores-Morgado spoke before the Santa Cruz Arts Commission in June, saying the mural symbolized the community’s struggle and resilience through time.

“We’re in a crossroads of destiny,” Flores-Morgado said, according to Santa Cruz Arts Program Manager Beth Tobey. “Our youth, our generation can look back into the past mistakes and move forward striving for this future or we can continue this cycle of oppression and not improve our lives.”

The mural’s themes will delve heavily into a term known as “intersectionality,” coined by law professor Kimberlé Crenshaw as a way to reveal limitations of single-issue anti-discrimination laws.

Jamie Joy, who came up with the idea for a LGBTQ youth mural 18 months ago, teamed up with muralists Manny Garcia and Oliver Whitcroft for the project, which draws from input of teenagers across Santa Cruz County. Joy is a 2016 UC Santa Cruz graduate who now works as youth program coordinator for The Diversity Center of Santa Cruz County.

“The kids that I work with, they hold multiple identities; they’re not just thinking about the fact that they’re gay or trans or gender non-conforming. They’re also thinking about their families’ citizenship status and they’re also thinking about their class status and their mental health and they’re thinking about other issues that affect them also,” said Joy. “The way that I understand intersectionality is just being aware of multiple identities and how they impact someone’s privilege or lack of privilege in the world. I think the kids that we work with understand that on a deeper level than I did when I was 14 or 15 years old.”

Tobey, who leads the city’s public art efforts, said that LGBTQ community faces challenges with violence and discrimination. The Santa Cruz area also has people who “want to be allies to that community, but maybe don’t completely understand the best way to do that,” she said. To that end, Tobey has put out a public call for ideas on how to expand the mural’s impact and reach in the community.

“(The teens) want a richer, more complex dialogue around issues of LGBTQI people face, including how that intersects other characteristics that they may have or other communities that they may be part of,” Tobey said. “I got really excited about helping them take this beyond just a public art project and really making an impact on the community.”

Project leaders obtained a $1,000 grant from the Arts Council Santa Cruz County, and more recently, an $8,000 grant from the Santa Cruz City Arts, approved by the city Arts Commission in June. Working with Diversity Center peer Alex Santana Jr., Joy and the artists reached out to several teen groups for design input.

Both Tobey and Joy said they hope a public education event or symposium can be timed to the mural’s completion, potentially at the Louden Nelson Community Center and with the help of community partners.

For information, to get involved or to make painting supply donations, contact Tobey at btobey@cityofsantacruz.com and Joy at youth@diversitycenter.org.

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