Mural project highlights art by Erie’s new Americans

Erie Arts & Culture received a grant from the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art to provide opportunities for Erie artists from Muslim countries so they may gain wider recognition here.

The grant funded school-based residencies, public performances and digital media training for 12 artists, some of whom came to Erie as refugees.

Henna artist Nialwak Athow, second from right, shows off her mural on Lake Erie International Market,  601 Brown Ave. With her are Kelly Armor, center, folklorist in residence for Erie Arts & Culture, which received a grant for the project; Mary Elizabeth Meier, left, art education professor at Edinboro University, and her daughter, Abigail Meier; and Jennifer Peters, art educator in the Fort LeBouef School District. Mary Elizabeth Meier and Peters helped with the mural.

Kelly Armor, Erie Arts & Culture’s folklorist in residence, is quick to share news of the grant.

“Especially during COVID, when so much has been canceled, you can still visit these shops, see the art, and support a local business while literally tasting the bounty of Erie’s new-American cultures,” she said.

Armor said the final initiative of this grant was completing three ethnic market murals.

As she said in an email, “Erie really has a wealth of new-American artists who are hidden in plain sight. This project gave them valuable experience in sharing their story, culture and art. In the case of this mural project, the artists also made a positive impact on local businesses. The artists chose a market they wanted to partner with and collaborated with the owners in creating a design. All three markets are interesting places with a unique array of goods.”

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