Painting a Better Murphy Park in Carr Square
What can a little paint do for a struggling neighborhood? In Carr Square, the answer is simple: anything you can imagine.
The neighborhood is a recent recipient of one of the $29-million Choice Neighborhoods Grants awarded by HUD. And for twelve weeks, the Center of Creative Arts (COCA), Urban Strategies, and St. Louis artist (and Sweet Art co-owner) Cbabi Bayoc have helmed the Murphy Park Mural project. The project is a collaborative place-making initiative with big goals. Using nothing more than paint, mural panels, and a lot of community energy, the collective invited local residents and anyone who cared about the Carr Square neighborhood to join them for weekly painting sessions in the park (and, on rainy days, a nearby church.) The idea was simple: brighten up the landscape, and hopefully, reclaim space for neighborhood kids in an area that had struggled with neighborhood crime. And in the process, give the community a place to have some fun.
But over the course of three months, the Murphy Park Mural project blossomed into much more. Soon, the St. Louis Metro Police department offered to join the painters and bring along free lunches for anyone who was hungry. Local nonprofit Village of Moms started tagging along to give the youngest artists free books to take home once the day’s fun was over. Suddenly, the painting sessions were doubling as park clean-up sessions and tripling as weekly ad-hoc community festivals shaped around residents’ needs, with more partners getting on board almost every week.
While the panels are still being installed, you can see the impact that the Murphy Park Mural Project has had on the community of Carr Square. And soon, you’ll have your chance to see their work in full color.
Top photo courtesy of Thom Masat. Other photos courtesy of Craft Alliance and Urban Strategies, Inc.