Neighborhood murals bringing international artists to Flint

FLINT, Michigan — More and more murals are going up around town, from the north end, east side, to the Carriage Town historic district and that's just how Sandra Branch and Joe Schipiani want it. Branch and Schipiani run Gallery on the Go and the Flint Public Art Project, both organizations committed to community beautification. 

The latest additions are a bookshelf along the side of Totem Books at Ann Arbor and Court streets and around the back a youngster peers from under a blanket through the pages of a book with a flashlight. The murals stretches the full length and height of the building. 

“The international artists that are coming to Flint to donate their talent to our mission at Flint Public Art Project. We are putting world-class art in public spaces. As part of our mission to heal our city through bringing Art to open spaces,” said Branch, who also teaches free after-school art classes at Broome Empowerment Village.  

The goal in the art is not just to add interesting sites to the city, although that helps Branch admits, it is also about access and healing.  “Art is about giving a voice to the voiceless. Telling their story. Also what they want it to be. The collaboration goes beyond our local artist to the community and what is our message not what someone else wants to label us as.”

The recently added murals at Totem Books are a point of pride for Schipani. “This was a great example of everyone working together to make something great happen,” Schipani said. “Using mural and public art to beautify a community not only gives the people in the community something beautiful to look at but gives them something to be proud of and hope for a brighter future.”

Internationally acclaimed artists helped develop the mural at Totem books. The Nomad Clan is a female duo from Britain that have created murals around the globe (most notably one ˆ˜ Leeds which at 150 feet tall ranks as the tallest in Britain). 

“We believe in collaboration with our local artist community improves the quality of artworks and our local artist gains the benefits of working with world-class artists,” Branch said. “Everyone benefits from the collaboration. The visiting artist takes a little bit of Flint resilience with them, too. They all have thanked us for letting them experience the real Flint, the people and neighborhood residents, the school children they meet and talk with about how they see themselves and what they want to say and see as a reference to their city where they see the future of their city,” Branch said.


Read more articles by Jake Carah.

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