On June 24, 2017, Christopher Fabor Muhammad and four college students began working on a mural facing Tyrone Collins Memorial Park as part of a Family Day Arts Festival put on by Arts Reforming Communities and other community groups and activists.
The event was an expansion of ARC’s agenda and brought other groups together for one common cause. Through Arts Reforming Communities student artists got a chance at making a piece of public artwork that promotes non-violence, change for the better, positivity, and the overall betterment of communities. Art students who worked on the mural are from William Paterson University: Feride Demircan, Jonte Silva, and myself. Alex Ortiz, a Passaic County Community College student, also was a contributing artist. Also, ARC members, youth members of at-risk and rites of passage programs, and regular community members all collaborated to produce the murals.Mr. Muhammad is the founder of ARC and is also a member of a group called The Village.
“The Village team holds anti-violence events in which ARC participates to do murals as part of a multi-dimensional approach toward improving the quality of life of the citizens of Paterson, NJ, especially in areas that account for the most homicides in the city,” said Mr. Muhammad.
Other murals are located on East 23rd and Presidential Blvd. in Paterson, NJ. The work done on Presidential Blvd. and Tyrone Collins Memorial Park was inspired by the tragic death of Nazarah Bugg and others from the 1st ward area who sadly lost their life due to violence in the streets.
Each mural holds a special positive message. Last summer’s painting created on Presidential Blvd. was all about changing for the better and self-improvement. We illustrated this message by painting butterflies because butterflies go through stages of metamorphosis. They start off as eggs then morph into caterpillars to a pupa and finally into a beautiful butterfly. The mural shows a gun that is shooting out sunflowers and words like peace, brother and sisterhood, proper diet, knowledge, wisdom, exercise, reading, etc. The mural also has the names of people who have died of violence in that area.
The mural created this year at the Family Day Arts Festival is based on the theme of “Collateral Beauty.” This means that when one does a good deed, it has a ripple effect or that something beautiful can come out of something horrible. It’s depicted by having a lotus sitting on water causing a ripple effect where the water becomes cleaner the further it ripples. There’s a movie about this concept called Collateral Beauty starring Will Smith.
ARC teamed up with several groups to pull it off, including The Bugg Foundation, 4th and Inches Foundation, Epitome of Soul, DPW, Clean Communities, PEA and others.
Mr. Muhammad is a member of a new Ad Hoc Mural Advisory Committee. He’s assigned from the mayor, Joey Torres to develop proposals and guidelines for murals in Paterson, NJ.
Graduate students from prestigious Universities are researching the effectiveness of the murals in improving the quality of life and environment where they are placed.
Other than ARC, Mr. Muhammad hosts paint parties and he directs after-school programs in several schools in Paterson that provide: art, dance, drama, and chess courses. He’s a professional artist with his works exhibited around the country. He is the proud illustrator of the children’s book “Enough of Frankie Already” written by Felicia Capers another ARC member. Currently, he is working to illustrate and produce his series of children’s books and has recently completed illustrations for the forthcoming children’s book “When I Grow Up” written by Dr. Lilisa Mimms. His works and programs can be seen online at www.yourcreativeforce.com.
“We are always looking to provide interns to college students for many of our programs. Any interested students, we welcome your resume,” said Mr. Muhammad