Along Olive Avenue off Clematis St, a bright new triptych mural is bursting with flowers, color, and love in many forms.
Titled “Love Comes Naturally,” the free-flowing mural design, that holds messages of diversity, tolerance, childhood, and even same-sex love, was selected by the West Palm Beach Downtown Development Authority last year following a request for proposal. The DDA and the West Palm Beach Arts & Entertainment District partnered with a team of students from Dreyfoos School of the Arts.
The result is a bright green three-paneled mural designed by Jaclyn Cohen and Gyöngy Lili Szászvárosi.
Erica Prince, a visual arts teacher at Dreyfoos School of the Arts heard about the DDA’s project presented the opportunity to her visual arts students.
“We talked through our options for the collaborative approach and decided to work on a design concept reflecting three different forms of love: familial, romantic, and platonic,” said Gyongy Lili, one of the mural artists and an 11th-grade Visual Arts student at Dreyfoos School of the Arts.
“The DDA posted a call to artists, and we were excited to apply,” Lili says standing in front of the finished artwork on Olive Avenue on an unusually bustling weekday afternoon due to the Boat Show starting along the waterfront. “Once we heard the theme was “Love Comes Naturally,” we collaborated on an idea we thought would best translate into a mural. We like the color green,” she giggles, “and thought of how love flowers, so we designed three parts. Our design includes diverse figures, which represents the idea that love can be expressed in many ways between all people.”
The students are a colorful sight themselves, wearing lime green overalls, purple tops, lace and striped face masks, combat boots, and mouse-eared headbands.
“Each third of the mural represents different forms of love: familial love, romantic love, and platonic love,” Jaclyn continues. “We wanted to represent all different types of love and people in a composition that flows from panel to panel with different types of natural plants and a vibrant color scheme to emphasize that all love is beautiful.”
The first panel is Familial Love – a brown-skinned woman with flowing dark hair in a one-shouldered dress kneeling down barefoot, holding an infant swaddled in a pink cloth. Dark green vines swirl around her, dotted with pink flower buds and leaves.
The middle panel is Romantic Love and shows a young brown-skinned girl, her curly hair swept up into a large bun, with her arms around the neck of a fair-skinned girl. The brown-skinned girl has her eyes closed, the other girl is leaning into her, their noses almost touching. They seem to be floating in the air with joy.
There are no men depicted in this mural, which may say something about the artists or the world they see love in. This is obviously two women in love, did this raise any questions by the committee?
“No not at all, they approved it without questions, they just looked it over and said ‘Cool!’ ” Jaclyn says smiling shyly. “To me, a mural like this is for everyone and brings joy and hope to the community by celebrating love amongst bright, captivating colors you would find in nature here in West Palm Beach. Nature always starts with green, then flowers come later. It is a reminder that our community always cares for and supports each other.”
The final panel is Platonic Love, where two girls holding hands seem to be dancing in the air against dark green vines and bright blue flowers.
“The women in the mural are not based on any real people we know, we just wanted to show diversity in age and race. We wanted the mural to flow along the wall here,” Lili says. “We had to design it in 3 parts because the section of wall is so long and there are doors in between. It took us about 50 hours total with 3 of us painting. It was fun to do this outdoors and have people stop by and watch us.”
The team of three artists used watercolor, pastels, gold leaf, real pressed flowers, and tree bark to express the ideas of connection of self-love. Cohen, who has experience organizing murals through the school’s mural society, led the team of three students selected to paint the mural onto the Olive Ave wall.
The other collaborating artist, Kyra Kramer works in a variety of mediums and subjects and explores varying topics through digital and traditional mediums such as memories, portraiture, figurative work, and narrative illustrations. Kyra also has experience in painting larger pieces, both on and off walls.
The mural was painted directly onto the wall using the drawings that had been approved, they did not use a projection for outline or a grid system. This can be challenging if you don’t have experience in a mural of this size.
“There were three of us painting so we kept checking each other on spacing, design, and distance,” Jaclyn says. “That way we kept each other on track to get it right.”
The mural will be up for at least a year, reminding all those who pass by it that, in art at least, love does come naturally.
New mural in Downtown WPB celebrates love in many forms