CROWN HEIGHTS — A group of local artists have raised up the women of the neighborhood, literally, on a huge new wall mural at Mama Dee’s Garden.
The artwork, named “Passing Wisdom, Planting Seed,” is a celebration of women of color, particularly Afro-Caribbean women who have lived in Crown Heights for decades and serve as positive role models for a younger generation, the artists said.
“To see those examples of positive women of color means so much,” said Jazmine Hayes, who created the piece with fellow artist Danielle McDonald, both of the community art nonprofit Groundswell.
“Little girls will pass this mural and see how important they are,” she said.
The mural artists, Danielle McDonald and Jazmine Hayes (left and second from left), stand with the student artists who helped them create the mural in Mama Dee's Garden. (Photo credit: DNAinfo/Rachel Holliday Smith)
The three-story mural at Bedford Avenue and St. Marks Place was created by a group of local student artists who worked with Hayes and McDonald as part of a Groundswell summer program.
The students helped research and choose all the images in it, including children, mothers and neighbors as well as some political imagery, including the now-famous image of Black Lives Matter protester Ieshia Evans standing in front of police officer in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Activist Ieshia Evans depicted in the new mural in Crown Heights. (DNAinfo/Rachel Holliday Smith)
The artists also included real people from the neighborhood in the piece, including Jackie Europe-Pettus, a lifelong Crown Heights resident who owns the building where the mural was painted and operates a restaurant, Brooklyn Exposure, on its ground floor.
Three generations of Europe-Pettus’ family is included in the work; her face is depicted in the top right corner, her daughter is shown sitting with a neighbor on a stoop and her 90-year-old mother is shown front and center with the bell tower of her church, Bedford-Central Presbyterian Church on Nostrand Avenue, painted above.
“I’m really just in awe of this because they showed me pictures … but when you see it in person, it’s a totally different thing. And this right here is very special,” she said.
The mural was permanently installed in an unveiling ceremony on Tuesday at the garden, which is protected from development in perpetuity by the Brooklyn Queens Land Trust.
Jackie Europe-Pettus' daughter is depicted in the mural sitting with a neighbor. (DNAinfo/Rachel Holliday Smith)