Ferene Existing While Black explicitly and implicitly signifies the emancipation of enslaved people celebrated on Juneteenth. The core concept of the mural is invisibility contrasted with the full vibrancy of Black identity.
Based on the poem “I Am From All of Me Is Tired,” by Ferene Paris Meyer—a local storyteller, mother, Vermonter, queer Haitian Black woman and the founder of All Heart Inspirations—the mural is also a portrait of Ferene herself. Surrounding Ferene are hummingbirds, flowers and fruits native to Haiti, and traditional red Juneteenth foods meant to symbolize resilience. Her earrings hang down from the bottom of the mural, reflecting the light of her inner brilliance. In the background is the landscape of Lake Champlain backed by the Adirondacks, locating the image in the City of Burlington. Of significance are the gaps in the portrait revealing the landscape behind. The message is clear: there are parts of being Black in America that remain unseen. Invisible. We have cause to celebrate our history, but we need to be seen all the time.
The mural highlights the significance of Juneteenth not just as a vitally important moment of history, but as part of the richness of Black lives being lived joyfully and intentionally right now, today, in our city.
Listen to Ferene Paris Meyer read I Am From All Of Me Is Tired HERE. This audio file contains explicit language.
Street art—especially murals—have a rich and varied history within Latin American culture. Murals can be a vehicle for personal expression, historical events, and political statements. Most importantly, urban murals often tell stories left out of mainstream narratives. Drawing on this history and their own backgrounds, Latina artists Tanya Talamante and Cynthia Cagle provide the foundation for a rich amalgamation of powerful female artists that root the project within the local community. Cynthia Cagle, a Chicana from Los Angeles, moved to Vermont in 2004. While in Los Angeles she created large-scale murals for the Pasadena Chalk Festival and designed and painted other public facing projects for local businesses. Since arriving in Vermont, Cynthia has taught art and pottery, as well as exhibited at various community locations. She has worked in many mediums, including graphite, oil, acrylics, watercolors, chalks, clay, charcoal and various inks. Tanya Talamante is Mexican by birth; she grew up in Tijuana, Mexico's border to San Diego, California in an artistic environment that exposed her at an early age to the world of art and design. She divides her time between her two studios in South Burlington, Vermont and in Los Cabos, Mexico, where she founded Studio TT Art School and Gallery, which evolved into, and continues to be the first formal school of art in Los Cabos. Her work curating art, representing artists, and offering workshops aim to create a better and safer world through the arts.
Commissioned by Burlington City Arts and the Office of Racial Equity, Inclusion and Belonging