In the spring, Wah Lum Kung Fu & Thai Chi Academy in Malden closed, like so many other businesses, to help stem the spread of coronavirus. The windows were boarded up to protect them. Then in July and August, a team of artists saw the boards that temporarily enclose the building as an opportunity–and painted a collaborative, community mural across them. My sweetheart Kari Percival and I were lucky and honored to be among the artists who worked on the project.
The goal of the mural is “to protect the sacredness of a traditional Chinese martial arts establishment during inactivity due to COVID-19, to liven the once bustling corner of downtown Malden just months ago, and most importantly, to activate the inviting walls of the Wah Lum Malden Academy to resonate deep images and messages about unity, balance, solidarity, community activism, safety, nature, arts and spirituality,” Mai Du, the owner of the academy at 124 Ferry St., wrote in late July.
Mural organizers write: “This collaborative public art piece was created by local artists and youth of color in the Greater Malden community to honor unity and solidarity. Temporarily housed by the Wah Lum Kung Fu & Taichi Academy (Malden), each section of the mural, led by different artists, represents a different take on solidarity and liberation — the multilingual text states ‘unite’/’unity,’ the dragon connects different cultures, the lions represent resistance and strength, guardian foo dogs reclaim community safety, and finally, representations of our own community members show our love for our neighbors.”
The lead artists were Jameson Francois, Vivian Ho, Rayna Lo, Shaina Lu, Kari Percival, Amy Tran, and me, as well as youth from GMAACC, Wah Lum, and AVOYCE Malden. Plus help from Matt Chan, Yen Chit, Vivian Dang, Mai Du, Nelson Liu, Laura Le, Yu Sin Mok, Andrea So–and Jennie C., Cindy N., Thien N., Trisha O., Saiman R., Mandy S., Thomas T., Andre W., Rei and Katheeya
“Wah Lum Malden is beyond grateful for all the artists, youth, and volunteers who are making this amazing public art a reality,” Mai Du writes.