Throughout history, art has always played key roles as an escape, challenge, or medium to allow people to process their emotions and creatively navigate change. The power of art and its ability to foster human connection is evident in every community, including my hometown of St. Louis.
Delmar DivINe serves as a centerpiece for advancement and allows St. Louis to turn the tide of history and reimagine life for its residents and the entire country. It is a once-in-a-generation project that aims to help bridge the racial divide by providing a place where people from all walks of life can gather, connect, and make lasting memories. The building is a catalyst for change and houses nonprofit organizations, sponsors innovative programs, and provides affordable housing for young professionals and social leaders.
Staying true to its name and foundational values of INvestment, INnovation, and INclusion, Delmar DivINe features work from the Painting for Peace series that mirrors important community relations. The art repurposes boards that were used to shutter businesses in Ferguson, MO, during the 2014 riots after Michael Brown’s death. Brown’s death set off a spiral of events that led to protests, property destruction that impacted many minority and immigrant-owned businesses, and a lot of community soul-searching. These circumstances also helped launch the Black Lives Matter movement and led to nationwide outcry and demand for change.
At the same time as the rallies, the Painting for Peace movement emerged, where St. Louis artists saw boarded-up storefronts as canvases. They gathered tools and other advocates to paint their stories and demonstrate the racial inequity highlighted by this tragedy. The plywood lining the St. Louis streets transformed into a timeline of emotion, hope, fear, and creativity. Ferguson and St. Louis City avenues reflected the significance of this moment in history and how art was helping to heal people and neighborhoods. Ferguson native and writer Carol Swartout Klein recognized the importance of this moment and first captured the images and the story in the children’s book “Painting for Peace in Ferguson.” It has since become a national award-winning book, and all profits fund North County area art, education, or youth-related non-profits.
Symbol for Change
The Painting for Peace series is a powerful symbol of what happens when we reach across the boundaries dividing us to connect, create, and inspire together. I look forward to how Delmar DivINe and the outstanding people who enjoy this space will transform my hometown of St. Louis and illustrate the value of diversity.