By Alexander Salas
Photos by Crystal Rivera and Alyssa Castro
MERCED, Calif. — Last Saturday one of Merced’s local community youth groups, Faith in Merced (FIM), had a major event to showcase a mural they advocated for earlier this year.
The unveiling event was located at Sam’s Cafe, whose exterior wall was recently transformed into a beautiful mural showcasing three beautiful women of color. Each of them represents a different minority community within Merced; Hmong, African-American and Latino/Indigenous. This mural was painted by local artists from Merced and the Central Valley, including Kuta One of Kreepy Kawaii Designs, who have also painted many other art pieces around the local area. The purpose of the mural is to highlight the diversity of the community and honor women.
The event also called attention to Faith in Merced’s goal of changing the narrative around South Merced and showing that people do care about the poverty stricken neighborhoods located in the city. The event was beautiful, it consisted of rock painting, a bounce house , face painting and a live performance from some local talent across Merced. Among the talented artists was a member from the rap group known as Stubborn who came out to support the event.
Throughout the day there was music by DJ Jeremy Jenkins, raffles, art activities, tamales and other food provided by Sam himself. Two youth leaders, Elizabeth Arellano and Guadalupe Reyes ran the event. The two young women are also Health Career Connection Interns with Faith in Merced.
Approximately 100 south Merced residents attended giving the event a wonderful turnout. Youth and adults alike attended to see the new wall, which is now covered by beautiful artwork.
FIM, formerly known as Merced Organizing Project, spent the past nine months working on the mural, including going door-to-door getting local opinions from residents on what they would like to see in the community around them. All together the group surveyed 200 residents. Once they tallied up all the results, Faith in Merced came up with the idea of displaying three beautiful women of color in cultural clothing like traditional Hmong dress, head wraps and other traditional clothing. The city’s Hmong, Latino, and African American communities are now celebrated in the mural.
Those involved with the mural said the process was challenging but the outcome was worth it. The mural has had a great reaction from the community and many people said they were pleased to see the mural put up. The colorful piece, they said is a positive mark for the community rather than graffiti and is drawing attention from all over Merced.
Faith in Merced organizers said with the mural completed, it’s the tip of the iceberg, and they can’t wait to see what comes next.