Clardy Vinson, THS Principal, holds the Douglas print that inspired the project[graphic spacer]Mural with community member attending dedication

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From Slavery Through Reconstruction, designed by Aaron Douglas

The Aaron Douglas Celebration Mural is a project of the Central Topeka TurnAround Team. To honor Topeka artist Aaron Douglas and to celebrate Topeka's rich heritage, the TurnAround Team has been joined by many in the community to recreate one of Douglas's powerful works in mural form. The mural appears on a wall constructed at the corner of 12th and Lane Streets in Topeka. The painting of the Mural was overseen by Kansas artist David Lowenstein, with the help of artist Stan Herd.
Aaron Douglas (1898-1979) was born in Topeka and graduated from Topeka High School in 1917. He attended the University of Nebraska from 1918 to 1922, graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. He taught school in the Kansas City Area for several years, then moved to New York City to study under a master artist. He became known as the "Dean of African-American painters" and as the "official" artist and muralist during the Harlem Renaissance.
Replica: Aspects of Negro Life: From Slavery Through Reconstruction. 1934. Original is in the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, formerly the 135th St. Branch, New York Public Library. Topeka's mural is double-size of the original. Painting was done by local high school and college students and neighbors of Tennessee Town neighborhood, Topeka.

Topeka and Chicago nieces of Aaron Douglas
Mariama Hodari, niece of Aaron Douglas, speaks of family memories of Uncle Doug Mariama Hodari speaks Mariama Hodari reminesces Mariama and her sister, Cyrene Holt Another niece and sister: Connie Sawyer

Community leaders and professional artist leaders
David Leamon, Director of the Topeka-Shawnee County Public Library, Project Committee member, and Master of Ceremonies Dr. Ernest Benson, Asbury-Mt. Olive and East Topeka United Methodist Churches and President, Topeka Chapter NAACP, offered the invocation Deborah Swank, TurnAround Team Chairperson Danielle Dempsey-Swopes, Director, Kansas African-American Affairs David Lowenstein, Lead Mural Artist Stan Herd, Consulting Artist

Grassroots workers and painters on the mural project
Marty Moreno, Topeka High School art instructor, manages student painters Student painters take a bow Aisha Williams, student painter delivers remarks Jenn Barr, a Washburn University art student, discusses her contribution to painting the mural Karen Hiller, TurnAround Team, Project Coordinator Judy Billings, neighborhood leader, comments on the mural project

Project supports and community celebrators
Preparing for the dedication ceremony David Leamon begins the dedication Presentors and honored guests (City Council member Lana Kennedy is wearing orange)
Guests observe the dedication ceremony A nice crowd gathered for the dedication ceremony Max Yoho and Marje Heeney greet friends at the mural site prior to the ceremony

Community Partners supporting this extraordinary community project are:
       •Topeka TurnAround Team members who served as the organizing committee
       •Topeka Community Foundation, acting as the fiscal agent for all donations.
       •Dillion Stores donated the ground adjacent to a local Dillions store as the mural site


All photos © 2005 by Carol Yoho
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