In Niagara Falls there is a strip of murals that do more than make once grey walls beautiful. Saladin Allah, project manager says public art is a way of bringing a sense of pride and ownership and place in the community and that is something we haven’t seen here in the City of Niagara Falls and hopefully this will start a trend in other communities to see the benefit as well as the beauty. The Niagara Falls National Heritage area NF Mural Project is a showcase of the area’s heritage and culture. Ally Sponger, project director says this location is really important in history as well as today. Where they are standing is part of the City of Niagara Falls on the north end, but it is also where freedom seekers came from the south to escape slavery. Across the street from where they are standing is where the Suspension Bridge was. Harriet Tubman and many others crossed that bridge getting freedom in Canada and also here in Niagara Falls there was an underground network of waiters who worked at the hotel in the booming tourist industry and they helped people who were either brought here enslaved or helped people get here from other places on the network of the underground railroad to get to freedom.
A grant from the New York State Health Foundation made these murals possible. Saladin Allah says once they received the grant for the project they did three community meetings and they also created a selection committee of community members who had the opportunity to look over the portfolio of the artist who submitted projects and they chose the artist are putting together the murals that are there. He goes on to say what you see in this project is the reflection and representation of our actual community members and we are sharing those stories of the community members.
Ally Sponger that the NF murals will always be evolving and growing. When they finish up with this particular border next year, they will have over 20 murals and al the space will go filled. They will add other interpretive elements to share the stories of the community; to share the stories of the artists and the involvement of this project and from there the murals will continue. Sponger says they want to work with local business owners; with the City of Niagara Falls to bring more murals through a community driven process to share more stories of Niagara Falls with the world.
You can check out the murals on Main Street and Depot Avenue in Niagara Falls.