This past week, the culmination of a years-long effort to bring public art that celebrates Trenton’s diverse strengths and encourages peace took place when a mural was unveiled at The Children’s Home Society Heritage North Family Success Center (HNFSC) at 1554 Princeton Avenue in the city. The unveiling was attended by Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora and community partners including Isles, Inc. and the Center for Hispanic Policy, Research and Development. Addressing the crowd gathered at the new mural, Mayor Gusciora said, “This is not just paint on a wall, instead, this mural demonstrates the commitment of our diverse communities to advancing peace.”
Isles, Inc. partnered with The Children’s Home Society of New Jersey (CHSofNJ) and commissioned Leon Rainbow, a well-known local artist and muralist to design and create a mural at the HNFSC as part of Isles, Inc. “Increase the Peace Initiative” in the City of Trenton. The mural features Leon Rainbow’s signature vibrant colors and dynamic compositions. It is a visually stunning piece of art and conveys messages of diversity, inclusion, and community service by incorporating various symbols, figures, and motifs.
According to Maritza Raimundi-Petroski, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at CHSofNJ, “For two decades, the HNFSC has provided vital services in Trenton’s North Ward. We value diversity and engage families from all walks of life in center-based activities, ensuring inclusivity. Our community collaborated on a meaningful mural representing what PEACE, equity, inclusion, belonging, and diversity mean to them. The mural highlights our cultural identity, raises awareness, and fosters a sense of togetherness. Partnerships, like the one we nurtured with Isles, the City of Trenton, and Capital Health throughout this process, reinforce my belief that a shared vision is the foundation for successful collaboration.”
The vision for the project came to life under the leadership and coordination of Stacy Heading, Director of Community Engagement at Isles, Inc., Tonya V. Delgado-Gonzalez, a summer intern from the NJ Hispanic Governor’s Fellowship Program under the Center for Hispanic Policy, Research and Development at the Department of State and Maritza I. Raimundi-Petroski, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at the Children’s Home Society of New Jersey with the feedback and design concept contributions of clients at the HNFSC and members of its Parent Advisory Committee. The 8-week project was executed through a partnership between Khadijah McQueen, Recreation Supervisor at the City of Trenton’s Department of Recreation, Natural Resources & Culture; Nathalie Laurent, Program Coordinator at the Capital Health Institute for Urban Care’s VICTORY (Violence Intervention for the Community Through Outreach Recovery) Initiative. Leon Rainbow and Jose BUSTA Bustamante worked hands-on with ten high school students who participated in the “Take it to the Streets” Summer Leadership Program with the City of Trenton to bring the concept to life.
“Our mural was intended to make everyone in the area feel welcomed, appreciated, and embraced, since that is what the Heritage North Family Success Center stands for,” said Tonya Delgado Gonzalez, Community Engagement Intern and Artistic Fellow, NJ Governor’s Hispanic Fellowship Program. She added, “The ethnic differences that exist in our neighborhoods serve to enhance its cultural vitality, energy, and beauty. Our mural was inspired by the community and created for the community, like a tree whose seeds give back to the ground it was planted in.”
The mural, Sowing the Seeds of Peace through Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, is a captivating focal point that ignites curiosity and sparks conversations among families, staff, and visitors. Its imagery and themes encourage people to contemplate and discuss the importance of diversity, inclusion, and service in our society. Adorning the external wall of the HNFSC building, the eye-catching mural enhances the aesthetics of the space. It promotes values of peace and unity in the community. It is a constant reminder of the significance of diversity, inclusion, and service, inspiring everyone who encounters it. Through activities that provide healthy outlets for youth, teach them leadership and team-building skills, and emphasize Trenton’s arts and culture, Increase the Peace seeks to build a positive youth community ready to lead their peers and communities in pushing for peace.
For more information, contact Maritza Raimundi-Petroski, firstname.lastname@example.org.