Eye On CWLA
He has created art for the White House, the World Bank, the Florida Supreme Court, and a host of other well-respected organizations. In April, artist and activist Xavier Cortada added CWLA to the list.
Cortada donated his time to create a National Message Mural as an offshoot to the CWLA’s Children’s Memorial Flag initiative, unveiling the artwork at a CWLA-sponsored Children’s Memorial Flag event April 22 at the IDEA Public Charter School in Washington, DC, where it will be displayed for 10 years.
“What a wonderful idea to have a mural about you, that’s about hope,” Cortada told an assembly of students, staff, and local officials gathered at the school to honor the Children’s Memorial Flag and to witness the mural’s unveiling. “It’s about ensuring each and every one of you is protected, and that each and every one of you has a bright future.”
Cortada explained that the children in the mural are holding hands to symbolize the importance of young people supporting one another. “We want to make sure you are the very best parents in the future, and the best students today,” he said.
Similar to the red Children’s Memorial Flag, depicting five doll-like figures of children holding hands, including the white chalk outline of a sixth child in the center representing a child lost to abuse or neglect, Cortada’s mural also features six children holding hands. But unlike the figures on the flag, the children in Cortada’s mural have facial features, and their bodies are mosaics of different shades of blue against an orange-red background. The sixth child in the center is different shades of pink.
Surrounding the children are dozens of messages about nonviolence and the importance of nurturing children. In the weeks before the mural’s creation, CWLA gathered the quotes from concerned citizens and CWLA members and staff nationwide. Also included are notable quotes from Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Maya Angelou, Eleanor Roosevelt, and other famous figures.
The IDEA Public Charter School was selected to display the mural because of a partnership established between CWLA and the school’s students and staff following a series of arson attacks at the school in December 2004. CWLA helped create a poetry curriculum at the IDEA School, and participating students held a Poetry Slam during CWLA’s 2005 National Conference. Several students again read their poetry during the April 22 flag and mural event. Many of the poems explored issues of violence and crime prevalent in urban settings.
More of Cortada’s artwork, including the National Message Mural, are displayed on the artist’s website at www.cortada.com.