BY NICOLE HOLDERBAUM
The longer I live here, the more I fall in love with Jacksonville. I have been pursuing my career as an artist here for about 3 years now and I have found nothing but support and love from my community. Naturally, I wanted to be a part of anything that would further my career and, above all else, benefit the community. When I found out about the One Spark crowdfunding festival, I knew I had to be a part of it. I became a One Spark creator in 2015, and although I was unsuccessful in winning, it lead to many incredible relationships and opportunities. One of the greatest of those opportunities was working with the Jacksonville Parks and Rec Department on a series of children’s murals for their 2015 summer program, Summer Night Lights. This is where I discovered my true passion for working with children, and I used this inspiration in my 2016 SPARK Grant project proposal.
The SPARK Grant provided by The Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville and Florida Blue is one that searches for temporary creative projects that will benefit the community and bring a positive light and life to Downtown Jacksonville. In December of 2015, I found out that I was one of the SPARK Grantees for 2016! My project, Jacksonville’s Youth Ignites the SPARK District (now called Jax Kids’ Mural Festival) was chosen to receive funding for 2016. Jax Kids’ Mural Festival is all about uniting our community and providing a fun and creative event for children and their families to enjoy.
The Jax Kids’ Mural Festivals are a series of four mural festivals for children that will be held in four different locations in the SPARK District of Downtown Jacksonville. What you can expect upon arrival are three free-standing walls, each approximately 8 feet tall and 20 feet long, on which I and other artists will have completed a coloring-book-style mural which the children will then spend the day coloring-in with paint. There will be a skateboard ramp set up by our friends at Instaramp (instaramps.com) who will be providing skateboard lessons for all who are interested. There will also be music lessons, dance lessons, tie-dying, and yoga lessons. The first of the four festivals will be held on April 2nd in Hemming Park in collaboration with the non-profit organization Yoga 4 Change (yoga-4-change.com). The festivals will be open to all businesses and organizations in our community who are interested in participating, sponsoring, or collaborating in any way.
Applying what I have learned in my studies of education and art to the few children’s mural projects that I have already completed has made each experience more incredible than the last. Some children need and appreciate guidance in their creative expression, while others prefer to do it on their own. Each child approaches the mural in a different and unique way, and I learn from every single one of them. Each mural that I do teaches me more and more about how to efficiently provide guidance, empower, and connect with these children.
I believe that our youth are an important part of our community. I also believe that creative development at a young age is incredibly important in creating motivated and forward-thinking individuals who will one day contribute to our community in positive ways. Freedom of creative expression at a young age unlocks a child’s inner sense of self and builds confidence. Confidence is essential in achieving success in any and all endeavors throughout life. I hope that through my kid’s mural projects I can provide guidance for the youth of our community and help them to become confident and happy individuals.
All are welcome, and all are invited to participate and partake in these festivals. In order to contact us you can email [email protected] or call 561-236-8694. We hope to see you out there!