Local artist works with area youth to paint Young Masters’ Wall Twitter
By Stephen Wilson
Photography by Adam Atkinson
A folding table sits alongside the path at the 13th Street entrance to Karl Stirner Arts Trail (KSAT). On the top of that table are several large bottles of acrylic paint, dozens of egg cartons, and a pitcher filled with paintbrushes, their bristles pointed skyward.
Taped there as well is an artist’s rendition of a work that will soon appear on a nearby wall.
Zipping by on a bike, a man in spandex shorts and shirt says quickly to the group assembled, “Thanks for making this a beautiful place to ride.”
That beauty is thanks to Habib Fall, an Easton-based artist who works in many forms, including paint, ink, multimedia, and music.
This time his form is mural, his subject is freedom, and his assistants are teens.
The Young Masters’ Wall on the KSAT is ever-changing. In spring and summer, every month a different group of artists visits the trail and creates a variety of pieces. This summer alone adults with autism, local scouts, area schools, and members of the Arts Community of Easton have made their mark.
This month is Fall’s turn, and his work will be there through the winter.
Fall loves the trail and was eager to work on the wall with local youth as a way to give back to the city and pay homage to the years he’d skateboarded the path.
“This mural is like a message to my younger self,” he says. “It would have been amazing to have seen this here back then.”
The mural is in response to what is happening in our country around racial injustice and inequality. The work depicts Harriet Tubman predominantly—her face and her leadership on the Underground Railroad. Angela Davis and James Baldwin also make an appearance based on iconic images. Written in the work is a clear message: Keep Going.
“This cultural moment is on people’s minds,” says Fall. “This will be the first thing they see when they come in, which will help many people feel comfortable and respected in this space.”
Youth from the Boys and Girls Club of Easton were recruited to help.
“This project is phenomenal,” says Dean Young, club director. “The young people came in, talked with the artists, dropped their guard, and seemed uninhibited by their painting talent to contribute to this symbol of social progress.”
One of those artists is 16-year old Syrmarah Gumbs who was interested in this opportunity the moment she heard about it. She applies a golden-brown paint between taped lines of what appears to be an abstract star-like pattern.
When she saw the rendition on the table, she couldn’t help but think of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
“I came to the United States in 2016 from the Caribbean and have been shocked and horrified by what I am seeing happening in this country,” she says. “It is not what we saw prior to coming here but has opened my eyes to this new world.”
Behind her, eyes are being opened with paint on the faceless outlines of figures trusting Tubman as she follows the North Star to a better life.