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    New Mural at Catherine Blaine "We Are Here"
    Posted on 09/24/2020
    Two people stand together in masks in front of the mural

    New Mural at Catherine Blaine "We Are Here"

    It’s called "We Are Here," the big, beautiful new mural at Catharine Blaine K-8 School. It's a piece of art that is a little bit about the passage of time and a lot about meaning. It was also a labor of deep love and the desire to speak up and out for community, all through the deft brush work of Seattle artist Hiawatha D.

    The story of the new mural – which was unveiled and dedicated in the school gym on Sept. 16, 2020 – really began 16 years ago. That's when Hiawatha D.'s children attended Blaine K-8, and that's when the artist, in 2004, created a mural on the gymnasium wall. That mural was a colorful, abstract piece that featured a variety of Seattle scenes.

    Beloved and beautiful, the original mural was ready for some updating. The Blaine K-8 school community wanted to either freshen up the piece or create something entirely new. And who better to tackle the project than the original artist himself, Hiawatha D.

    Under the leadership of Blaine physical education teacher Trina Pickens, who started a GoFundMe drive to help pay the artist commission, discussion on themes for the new mural began. While the final design was completely from the heart and mind of Hiawatha D., the overall project was about community and included deep collaboration between all involved, including families, the school PTA, staff, and the community, via the school’s Race and Equity Team. A key member of the project was Hiawatha D.'s wife, Veronica Very Davis.

    "I’m super-excited to come with my husband and partner with him in creating a healing and educational experience, I think that will last a lifetime" said Veronica, who was a student at Blaine in the 1980s.

    The healing she's speaking of was embedded from the start in the project, which was dubbed "The Healing Mural." The goal was to make sure the piece represented Black children and adults, and to show that they are a vital part of the school, neighborhood and city community.

    Indeed, the finished project — with the same bold color scheme as the original — depicts a variety of Black people standing together, facing the viewer, in a celebration of inclusion.

    From the GoFundMe page: "This mural will celebrate and affirm the fact that Black people should be seen and heard in a place where they don't often see themselves reflected in the community. We believe this collective action during this historic time has the power to create an invaluable legacy for our generation."

    And the current generation of students — as well as those in the future — will benefit from ongoing collaboration with Hiawatha D. and Veronica. Blaine's middle school art curriculum, led by teacher Suzy Goulart, will include and build on the artists' stories and the new mural.

    "It’s a fresh start for a new beginning," Hiawatha D. said during unveiling of We Are Here, which included a live performance from Anhayla Stanley of a song also titled We Are Here.

    Hiawatha D. sums it up best, "We are here to speak to the fact that we are here, and we will be here, and everybody needs to be appreciated, everybody needs to be celebrated."

    You can watch a recording of the Sept. 16 dedication and unveiling on YouTube.