Community Art with KIPP Bridge Students

Davina Coleman (front right) with a group of volunteers

Davida Coleman, the mother of Michelle Coleman – Assistant Principal at KIPP Bridge Academy, and Author of The Beginning And The End, has expressed herself through art for as long as she can remember. Born a native New Yorker and raised back East, she always felt a bit different and decided to move to California. Art became the chosen vessel to bestexpress herself.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Coleman witnessed firsthand the havoc it had on the wider Oakland community and more specifically on the students, families, and teachers of KIPP Bridge Academy. Inspired by the resilience in her community, she sketched out plans for a mural. With the support of Paint the Town, an Oakland City initiative, the project became a reality. 

While Coleman encourages each person to create their own meaning of the piece, certain aspects of the mural are personal and represent her journey. The Apple is a call back to New York where her roots were first formed and her strong sense of community stems from-of which she received her greatest love and the approval to be different from her Grandmother. For Coleman, the most important thing the mural symbolizes is the physical reminder of a community coming together to create art. 

The mural did just that. On the first day of painting, KIPP Bridge students of all grades from TK to 8 came out to help paint, laugh, and learn. Many students like Dakari, a first grader, and Zayra, a second grader, were excited to have the opportunity to paint. 

While Zemirah, a 5th grader, felt that working on the mural meant something more….“When we all come together we can create something beautiful”. 

 Zemirah (right) with a friend

Coleman wants her art “to give people a voice” and this was evident in the discussion happening between all the students. They spoke freely about the different elements of the mural and their interpretations of it. Some even expressed how they too one day would paint murals professionally. As for Coleman, she hopes that the students learn from this experience and one day “Have a dream, put it in motion, and don’t let anyone tell you that your dream is too big or too small”.

Davida Coleman is a writer, artist, and non-profit founder follow her on Facebook @SoulOneLLC to learn more about her work.

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