The nearly finished mural was designed by Louisville-based artist Kacy Jackson through inspiration form Claysburg residents. Staff photo by Aprile Rickert
The nearly finished mural was designed by Louisville-based artist Kacy Jackson through inspiration form Claysburg residents. Staff photo by Aprile Rickert
JEFFERSONVILLE — Every day for the past several weeks, Claysburg resident Vanessa Brown has been watching as the message of vibrancy, strength and unity comes to life through a soon-to-be finished mural in the heart of the neighborhood.

“Soulful Nourishment,” created by Louisville-based artist Kacy Jackson from inspiration given by the residents, is the first in a four-part series made possible by a grant through BMe’s Next Narrative for Black America campaign. It is painted along the north wall of the former Spring Hill Elementary School building, now owned by Community Action of Southern Indiana, and serves as an access point to the neighborhood’s community garden.

“This is beautiful; I love this,” Brown said. “It gives a lot of pride to our community, it really does.”

This first project, which shares the themes of growth and nourishment, is a collaboration between the historically African American Claysburg neighborhood, Jeffersonville Public Art Commission, Community Action of Southern Indiana and Garden Renaissance.

The series is funded through a $10,000 grant secured by Jeffersonville Public Art Commissioner Kofi Darku — the only recipient in the region this year. The Next Narrative for Black America campaign seeks to “elevate the Black community’s strengths, build skills and increase community impact,” through art across the country, according to the Jeffersonville Public Art website.

“I think as the pandemic hit and then we have a summer of racial reckoning with all the protests, we noticed that this would be a great opportunity to make sure we did some meaningful Black-focused art in Jeffersonville,” Darku said.

He said the national BMe organization prides itself on “using these projects to bring a positive energy that’s encouraging and uplifting as opposed to what we feel our communities have been experiencing.

“What this art is really trying to do is to start healing for a community, for communities across the country that haven’t felt like they had a voice. We’re trying to highlight stories that uplift Black people, share Black people’s voices.”

The next installments will likely be in other areas of Jeffersonville with one at Ivy Tech in Sellersburg. Darku said he’s hoping they can highlight some notable historical African American figures of Clark County, and also look toward the future of the community.

For the “Soulful Nourishment” installation, the artist, Jackson, used community input — the words, themes and colors they felt helped speak for them.

“What it means to me is the community united — different races, different backgrounds coming together looking forward to love,” Jackson said. “That’s actually what I got back from the responses.

“This one really spoke to the community because it really represents them.”

Carol Moon, president of the Claysburg neighborhood association, said there were residents of all ages who took part in inspiring the piece. One little girl, for example, had wanted to see bright colors, people planting and growing.

“We’re all about replanting and growing good seeds for the community,” Moon said. “Not only in soul food but also in mental food to say ‘hey this community is still striving, this community is still love, we are still strong and we still have people, harmony and love in this community.’”

An unveiling ceremony for the mural will be Tuesday, Oct. 6 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., coinciding with National Night Out.
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