Cypress Street Land Acknowledgement Mural 2019 by Native American Wampanoag Artist Deborah Spears Moorehead An Outdoor Painted Mural on a Cement Bridge Wall 14 feet high by 30 feet wide

Submitted by Deborah Spears-Moorehead

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Client: Dr. Dannie Ritchie Ph.D. of The Alliance for Community Health

Location: Providence , RI, United States

Completion date: 2019

Project Team

Dr. Danny Ritchie

Gerald Moorehead

Jasmine Moorehead

Jacquelyn Moorehead

Cody Moorehead

Ryan Daniels

Laura Sullivan

Rhode Island School of Design Student Sanya and friend

Overview

A woman named Danny Richie Ph.D., an associate of Brown University and an expert on community health called me one day out of the blue. Loren Spears Ph.D.Executive Director of the Tomaquaug Indian Museum recommended me to Dr. Ritchie and gave her my contact. Dr. Richie asked me to paint a Native American Land Acknowledgement Mural on a roadway bridge wall. The wall was on Cypress Street In Providence R.I. She needed the mural completed by September 26th in order to stay within the time parameters of a grant cycle. I painted the mural in approximately five weeks during the heat of the summer beginning the second week of August and finishing September 26, 2019. It was a great experience meeting the people in the diverse neighborhood. When I began the mural the land surrounding the bridge was full of garbage and broken glass. After the completion and to this day, the land that surrounds the mural continues to stay clear of garbage glass and debris..

Goals

My intentions were to paint a mural image on a bridge wall. However, having to complete the work in a condensed amount of a time, I was on site almost every day. Passer bys observing the process often commented positively. At first the area was full of litter and broken glass. Maintenance was sent, however, I was constantly finding more broken liquor bottles. On top of the bridge teenagers drank and smoked loitering on a dead end road. Initially my contact with the youth was defensive on both parties, because I found out they thought my German Shepard and I were undercover drug officers. However, with their assumptions they still routinely threw litter over the top of the bridge with no disregard to me or the mess it was making. One day, fed up, I approached the group my dog by my side, explaining to them I was an Artist creating a mural. Once my intentions were established, defenses dropped and friendships happened. I explained the glass they were throwing was dangerous for the neighborhood and that I was a diabetic and if I cut my foot on the glass I could loose my leg if it became infected. I asked them if I were their mother would they throw garbage and glass on me ? They said no. I said consider the Earth your mother. The area continues to be clean.

Process

I collaborated with Dr. Danny Ritchie and she also gave me two wonderful volunteer Rhode Island School of Design student assistants seen in the images on this site. My husband, two daughters ,my son , son in law, my sister , my student and my German Shepard all helped me to get that mural completed on time. Sometimes it takes a village.

Additional Information

A colorful timeline blooms in Providence neighborhood | WPRI.com www.wpri.com/news/street-stories/a-colorful...