It’s a show of overlapping hands, different colors, cultures and nationalities with a simple but important message for all to see.
Susan Bagrationoff smiled as she gazed at her latest work – an 8-by-8-foot mural that shone brightly in the late afternoon sun Monday, hung on the outside west wall of Around the Clock, Inc., near the corner of West Meeker Street and 6th Avenue South.
“Hands of Unity” reflects harmony and diversity in Kent, a beautification effort for downtown.
When Bagrationoff got to sketching, the idea came to mind.
“I was actually kind of doodling … and somehow I thought about hands,” she said, “and with a lot of things that have been going on with the world situation right now … I thought it would be kind of neat to show unity by the fingers (of the hands) all touching, the different colors and the symbolism based on different cultures.”
The mural, a project led by Bagrationoff and the Kent Downtown Partnership (KDP) and supported by a $1,500 city of Kent Neighborhood Program grant, was met with applause, handshakes and hugs at its public unveiling.
“This is exactly what the Neighborhood grant is for, to give our neighborhood an identity and something they can came around and relate to,” said Mayor Dana Ralph, who cut the ribbon at the ceremony. “To see all this color … love it. It’s a fantastic representation of our community, our downtown, something that people will be able to come, see and talk about.”
Bagrationoff, who owns and operates Artsy Fartsy Art Lessons in Kent, is an artist, arts educator and arts supporter. She approached the KDP with the idea to paint a mural that expressed and celebrated Kent’s diversity. Suzanne Cameron, design chair with the KDP’s Art Committee, and Toni Azzola, the Neighborhood Program coordinator, were among those instrumental in securing the grant.
“I love it,” Bagrationoff said of the project, which took about 30 hours of work to complete in her studio. “I’m incredibly grateful that the Kent Downtown Partnership gave me this opportunity in trying to bring more art into downtown. I hope more artists get inspired by it.”
Added Barb Smith, KDP executive director: “We’re just trying to do whimsical art downtown, just to give people more reason to come downtown.”
Bagrationoff has led other community art projects. One of her next tasks is working with Kent Youth & Family Services to help facilitate a mural for its LGBTQ community.