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‘VOCES DE LA COMUNIDAD’ INSPIRED MURAL TO BE UNVEILED FIRST FRIDAY

Symone Salib
Philadelphia-based Mural Artist Symone Salib

Symone Salib’s community inspired work will be displayed on the Banana Factory

BETHLEHEM, Pa.— On Friday, Sept. 2., ArtsQuest will kick off National Hispanic Heritage month early with the unveiling of Symone Salib’s mural inspired by the Latinx history archive project, “Voces De la Comunidad: The Latinx Experience in Bethlehem, PA”.  The reveal will take place at 7 p.m., at the Banana Factory’s monthly First Friday event, ahead of National Hispanic Heritage month official start date on September 15th.

Symone Salib, a Philadelphia-based muralist, street artist and educator, said the mural was inspired by experiences shared from Latinx community members spanning generations. The history archive project led by City of Bethlehem Director of Equity and Inclusion Janine Carambot Santoro, was funded in part by a grant from the Institute of Museum & Library Services and facilitated in partnership with Lafayette College and The Bethlehem Area Public Library.

“ArtsQuest is honored to partner with Lafayette College and the Bethlehem Area Public Library on this visual representation of their collaborative oral history project, Voces de la Comunidad.” ArtsQuest’s Senior Director of Visual Arts and Education Lisa Harms said. “Storytelling is a powerful way to communicate history, culture and traditions. Janine Santoro’s vision for this project paved the way for this project’s culmination through the visual arts. We are thrilled that muralist Symone Salib was able to take the stories of our Bethlehem community members and translate them into an impactful visual representation that will be on view at The Banana Factory and eventually the Bethlehem Area Public Library.”

“This mural is an honoring of these leaders and a celebration of the power of storytelling as a means to rejoice, lament, and organize,” said Santoro. “We are grateful for her gifts which further the mission of centering traditionally minoritized voices and by giving us visibility at one of Bethlehem’s most equitable spaces for creating art.”

“Voces De la Comunidad: The Latinx Experience in Bethlehem, PA” is an archive project consisting of history collected over the course of 2020 through virtual interviews with numerous community leaders including the first Latino Mayor in PA, Jose Rosado, the first Latina judge in PA, District Justice Nancy Matos Gonzalez, BASD Advocate and Educational Consultant Iris Cintron and former Bethlehem Councilwoman Olga Negrón shared stories of accomplishment, migration experiences, racism, restorative justice and advocacy in housing, business, politics and education.

“The project was created as a way for us to capture the stories of some of our local prominent Puerto Rican leaders who could illuminate the Latinx/Hispanic community’s struggles and accomplishments,” Santoro said. “Our hope for the archive is that it not only gives a nod to our history by saying, “this is what we’ve been through,” but also says in the same breath says that “there is still more work to be done.”

On Friday, starting at 7 p.m., ArtsQuest’s Visual Arts Director Lisa Harm will welcome attendees followed by Santoro who will give details on the archive.

Mural artist Symone Salib, will discuss the creation of the mural before the reveal of the large-scale painting on the parking lot facing wall of the Banana Factory located at 25 W. Third Street.

First Friday activities will begin at 6 p.m., with live music inside the Crayola Gallery including a wine bar, snacks, new art exhibitions and open artist studios. Aja Jefferson will lead Salsa and Bachata dance lessons in the Crayola Gallery before the unveiling ceremony outside. The mural is on panels that will move to the library during the Banana Factory’s building construction in 2024.

For more details on the Archive project and stories visit Lehigh Valley Engaged Humanities Consortium website.  For a list of First Friday events and other Banana Factory happenings visit bananafactory.org.