Boarded windows transform into powerful murals thanks to local artists

WILMINGTON, Del. (WPVI) -- In a year where a global pandemic and civil unrest has darkened the doors of small businesses, a group of artists in Wilmington, Delaware are shining a light.

"The morning after the protests and the riots in downtown Wilmington, we saw that a lot of the businesses were boarded up and we wanted to do something about it," said Eliza Jarvis.

Eliza and her partners asked local business owners for permission to use their storefronts as canvasses.

"That just felt right at the time," said Robert Herrera, who co-owns Girard Craft & Cork. Earlier this spring, his business was stormed by rioters. With over $120,000 in damages, Herrera did not know what to do next.

"We saw that live and, you know, I just sat there that night and cried," he said.

Herrera is still in the process of repairing and reopening his business amidst ongoing limitations due to COVID-19. Unfortunately, this meant removing the boards on which his mural was painted. However, the community is currently making plans to aggregate and display all of the murals at a later date.

Other murals still stand amidst shuttered businesses in Wilmington, such as Spaceboy Clothing. Through mostly individual donations, each artwork employed a local black artist.

"I've been drawing since I was a little girl," said Jannah Williams, one of the mural artists. I love doing stuff like this because, you know, this is something that matters and it's something that means more to people."

Williams' mural depicts several newspaper clippings depicting the historically unjust treatment of black individuals.

Joe del Tufo, owner of Moonloop Photography, was there to capture Jannah Williams and other artists as they crafted their masterpieces. He said it taught him a valuable lesson.

"Talk to people. Let them hear your side of things and be willing to understand theirs," he said. "I think that is what we'd like to create more of and what I feel like is the spirit of the work that we're doing on this."

Photojournalist Robert Freeman contributed to this report.

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