The students who are part of the Arts Council of Princeton’s ArtsExchange program will get the chance to collaborate with a distinguished artist on a community mural project this spring.
The students will work with the Arts Council’s newly-named 2020 Anne Reeves Artist-in-Residence, Liberation Artist: Ebony Flag.
Flag, a local artist whose work includes illustration, graphic design, writing, and painting, will be creating a mural inside the Arts Council building called “The Future Me.” Flag’s goal for the project is to aid the ArtsExchange students in their vision of what they want to become by leading the class in visualizing all the possibilities that await them.
“Ebony’s process includes discussing the concept of creating artwork for a large mural format and how to effectively convey thoughts and ideas in an illustrative technique,” explained Maria Evans, Artistic Director of the Arts Council of Princeton (ACP).
Students are involved in the design and color scheme for their individualized silhouettes, which represent their future selves. Ms. Flag interviewed the students and asked what they might like to do when they were older and why. She took pictures of them with props, like a lab coat and beaker, police hats, stethoscopes, etc., and the pictures were made into silhouettes and painted with bright colors. The action-packed, colorful mural will be painted onto the ACP’s Communiversity Room wall and will be completed in April 2020.
“My goal for the “Future Me” mural is to create an atmosphere of inspiration and excitement for the youth,” Flag said. “The vibrant colors are a way to remind them that they are a light, even on their most challenging days, so shine bright and dare to dream.”
“Reflecting on my own journey, it was important for me to create an opportunity for other young artists to explore their own talents,” Flag continued. “Beyond the ArtsExchange students, I have enlisted the help of four students from local high schools to aide in finishing the mural.”
The Arts Council’s ArtsExchange program, which is a partnership with Homefront, Mercer County’s largest homeless services organization, offers weekly hands-on art instructions to children and teens living in transitional housing in Mercer County.
The program brings homeless kids, ages 5-18, to the Paul Robeson Center for the Arts for year-round programming, a hot dinner, homework assistance, and the opportunity for creative self-expression.
From an early age, Flag showed an interest in the arts.
She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Philadelphia’s Moore College of Art and Design, where she focused on illustration. Her work and showings can be found on her website www.ehfcreations.com.
“For me, illustration is about telling a story through one’s art, and that the concept or message behind a piece should be as intentional as the visual art itself,” Flag said. “I am committed to telling the stories of people at the margins of society. I believe not only in bringing awareness to their marginalization, but also depicting what true liberty looks like when we commit ourselves to the work of justice.”
Doing this kind of work has personal meaning for Flag.
“While I love art, I once wrestled with giving it up. When I was young and went to museums, I never saw anything that reflected me as a young black girl, and that was discouraging,” she said. “Looking back, I realize that we as a people need to not only see positive representations, but representations that show us embracing our authentic selves and not assimilating to others’ standards. My artwork aims to move people toward reimagining who they can be and serves as a catalyst for self-empowerment.”
Flag explained that when the mural is finished, the students will be able to look at it and know that they belong here.
“With exuberance and a keen artistic eye, Ebony guides her students to discover new ways to share their voices through art. Adding to an already expansive skill set, her creativity is not confined to illustration, as she is just as gifted in poetic writing. Her rhythmic writings are as vivid and captivating as the illustrations she creates,” Evans said.
The Arts Council of Princeton established the Anne Reeves Artist-in-Residence Program in 2009 to offer select artists the opportunity to conceptualize and create new works while providing the community with creative interaction with working artists in all disciplines. Founded in 1967, the Arts Council fulfills its mission of Building Community through the Arts by presenting a wide range of programs including community arts outreach, exhibitions, performances, free community cultural events, and studio-based classes and workshops in a wide range of media.