Painting the pandemic: Local artist helps teens create through COVID

Published: Apr. 22, 2021 at 11:11 PM EDT
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PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - Jordan Justice spent his years as a student in Pike County doodling on notebooks and creating art however he could. So, when the opportunity came to help other young minds do the same, he started working with The Appalachian Center for Arts and the City of Pikeville’s Main Street Program.

“It would almost go back to when I was younger. I used to draw coloring book-style images for my little sister,” Justice said. “This is exactly what I’m doing now for these students.”

The App reached out to Pikeville High School asking the students in the “Pikeville Teens Care United” club to use their experiences during the pandemic to help create art. With poetry, writings, drawings, and other pieces of the students’ experiences, Justice got to work outlining a graffiti-style mural. The mural intertwined all of the ideas and feelings presented by the students in their projects.

“You know, how this is so clean and so basic, that’s how a lot of things in life are seen. And we’re gonna bring these children out here to help me make this thing pop. It’s going to be bold. It’s going to, you know, just show the world what Pikeville is made of. How we handle stuff in this area,” Justice said.

Thursday, students came to the green area on Division Street to give the COVID-creation a little color. Each student picked a place and got to work with paint, adding bright colors to drawings that ranged from depictions of despair to glimpses of glee.

“It’s their thoughts and feelings and everything that’s happened to them in the past year,” said Biology teacher and club sponsor Kelly Scott. “Because, you know, we think about how it’s connected adults and businesses and little kids. But then you think about the teenagers who are kind of stuck in the middle.”

Justice said the ability to take the feelings brought to the table by the kids and mix them all into something like the mural is something of which he was proud to take part.

“I’ve worked a really long time to be able to express my art to the community,” said Justice who has now painted several murals and other pieces across Eastern Kentucky. “And for me to get these children an opportunity to express their perspective on you know, the hard times that we have gone through is amazing.”

The pieces will be moved to a different part of Pikeville in the days to come and will eventually stand on display in Pikeville High School, where the students will be able to look at the piece as a symbol of how they overcame the pandemic.

“They just feel so amazed that it’s there and they can share that and now we’re ready to move on,” said Scott. “They’re excited to see that- even though we’re still in COVID, we still have a ways to go- they’re looking at the future and they’re seeing that there is an end.”

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