Last week after months of requests and postponements, the Wichita City Council approved a Maya Angelou mural project to honor of the late poet at the Northeast Branch Library which bears her name.
With help from her team and the youth of Real Men Real Heroes, local muralist Priscella Brown will paint on the north side of the library facing 21st Street. Tiayla Maholmes, project leader, said the mural will feature a multitude of bright colors and literature of Angelou's in addition to her portrait.
"We wanted something that was going to draw attention. So, color was essential." said Maholmes. "I believe she was a piece of art, and her work was art. So, we wanted to tie them all together and represent her. She was a light, a light to other people, and the Black community."
The project is scheduled to start later this month, and Real Mean Real Heroes will fund the mural installation.
Real Men, Real Heroes began seeking permission to paint the mural in March 2020, with the goal of exposing the youth in the community to an art form to which they may not otherwise be exposed and enhance the community surrounding the Maya Angelou Branch Library.
"Our organization is centered around empowering, supporting, and mentoring youth and so we give youth something to do in their community. And then that sparks conversation. Who is she? What does she do? Why is she so influential?" said Maholmes.
Some components of the mural, including using stencils for lettering, will be painted by youth. To protect the mural, it will be painted with a graffiti presentation sealing agent.
Although Real Men Real Heroes had made some progress, in August 2020, they notified the Library Board of Directors that the work on the project would be postponed until 2021 due to COVID-19. The team also needed more time for depth of development of the artistry and for working with the Maya Angelou Foundation on rights to use images and text.
On July 12, 2021, the City’s Design Council, approved the revised design presented by Real Men Real Heroes.
The mural will be included in the Division of Arts and Culture's permanent public art collection for maintenance and upkeep. A mural has an average lifetime of seven to eight years, with repair costs ranging from $2,500 to $10,000 depending on the size of the artwork, which will be covered under the Division’s budget.