Reacting to a summer of social unrest, artist Kerrin Parkinson saw an opportunity to fulfill a long-held goal: to paint a large, public mural that would send a positive message.

Parkinson, 48, of South Portland, and assistant artists, Candice Gosta, 22, and Sidney Sanchez, 21, are creating the “Let Equality Shine” mural on the back alley side of the historic six-story Lancaster Block building, located at 50 Monument Square, and owned by PK Realty Management. With colorful images, the mural emphasizes the need for equality across race, gender and cultures.

“I was trying to take the skills that I had and put them together to create change and to give platforms to other artists, especially young female artists. I felt I needed to do something,” Parkinson said. “I’ve always wanted to do these large-scale murals but had never done one before this. I just feel like on this large scale it can’t be ignored.”

The mural, which Parkinson said will take another week or two to complete, is located on the other side of the alley from the George Floyd Mural which was painted earlier this summer on the side of the Aura nightclub on Center Street.

“I truly believe art work, especially the imagery that we’ve chosen, it really speaks for itself and we’re lucky enough to be right across from the George Floyd mural,” Gosta said. “Now (people) have another mural they can observe and feel a part of.”

While Parkinson created the overall theme, she has allowed her co-artists the freedom to express their own styles. Gosta, who graduated from Maine College of Art this spring, is handling the Black Lives Matter portion of the mural.

“I’d like to get across, loud and clear, all black lives matter, no matter what you look like,” Gosta said.

Parkinson is handling the middle portion of the mural, which is roughly 13 feet tall and 40 feet long, with a sun burst above a rainbow with the words “Let Equality Shine” and messages about the importance of clean air and water for all.

Sanchez, 21, will be a senior at Maine College of Art. She is emphasizing her Latin-American culture.

“I’m second-generation Latino-American. I’m touching on the Latinx community. I guess there’s this stigma that it’s all light-skinned people or brown people but there are a lot of black Latinx people,” Sanchez said. “On my side, there’s also a woman’s figure and around that will say ‘my body, my choice.'”

The City of Portland supported the project, buying the paint and applying the primer coat to the brick, said Jen Packard, the president of PK Realty Management, which bought the building in 2018.

The rest of the project costs, including artists’ fees, have been funded by Thomas Moulton of the Dunham Group, PK Realty Management, and an anonymous donor.

“We are really, really proud to be part of this project,” Packard said. “It’s an important message and we hope that it’s understood that way.”

Rich Bianculli, a neighborhood prosecutor with the Portland Police Department, helped facilitate the project, as a way to cover, and hopefully deter, graffiti. Parkinson had previously worked with the city to produce artwork on utility boxes around the city, which has also served as a graffiti deterrent.

“I reached out to Rich, to see if he knew of a place to make some art to make some positive change in the community,” Parkinson said. “They were having trouble back there with tons of graffiti. So this is kind of a win-win. We’re making great art, and giving a platform for two young female artists.”

Since the mural project has started, it has not been “tagged” with any graffiti, Parkinson said.

The mural shows that discussions of difficult subjects should “not be fueled by hate, but fueled by love and passion,” Sanchez said. “I think all the light colors and just how gorgeous it looks, it is touching on heavy topics but it comes across very light.”

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