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Kids make MLK collage for Civil Rights Museum

Drawings and impressions from children, grades three through five were assembled to a 4-foot by 8-foot collage of Martin Luther King Jr. by artists, from left, Cameron Malphurs, Kris Letlow and Sean Mulkey. Artist Durrel Smith is not pictured.

Drawings and impressions from children, grades three through five were assembled to a 4-foot by 8-foot collage of Martin Luther King Jr. by artists, from left, Cameron Malphurs, Kris Letlow and Sean Mulkey. Artist Durrel Smith is not pictured.

ALBANY — A black and white collage of Martin Luther King Jr. was dedicated at the Albany Civil Rights Institute Friday and will become a part of the museum’s permanent collection.

The graphic four foot by eight foot image was produced in January by about 300 area school children, grades three through five, according to Lorraine Alexander, community impact director with United Way of Southwest Georgia, which spearheaded the project.

Alexander said the portrait has been titled “Union,” because of the nature of it’s creation and the coming together of the community it represents.

“The children from The Boys & Girls Clubs of Albany, A School for Children, and the Albany YMCA’s Men of Distinction Program at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School were given black and white construction paper and drawing tools and instructed to write how they felt about Dr. King and what he did for this country,” Alexander said.

“When they’d finished, four local artists of the D’Town Arts Coalition fashioned the children’s work into the big collage.” Artists who took part in assembling the collage were Cameron Malphurs, Kris Letlow, Sean Mulkey and Durrell Smith.

The collage effort was conceived by four Americorp VISTA members, Erin Hutchins, Ben Swanson, Shanila Williams and Shanina Roberts.

According to Alexander, Americorp VISTA, or Volunteers in Service to American, is the national service program designed specifically to fight poverty in communities across America. The program provides full-time individual assistance to community organizations. Alexander said that VISTA is sometimes referred to as the “national” Peace Corps.

“The VISTA volunteers come from all over,” Alexander said. Three of the four here now came in November. They were asked to generate some kind of service project in the community to honor Dr. King, and this is what was done.”

Erin Hutchins, one of the VISTA volunteers, said that the artists assembled the collage at Brandon’s David’s Heart & Dagger Tattoo Parlour and Fine Arts Gallery, which donated the space to do so.

“We worked from a picture of Dr. King,” Mulkey said, “It was put together on art board with a special spray adhesive. We had to cut the construction paper to make it, but we were very careful to keep the best of what the children had drawn and written. Some of the paper sections included names or wonderful statements like ‘love is blind.’ ”

Sonyanna Green, a second grader at MLK Elementary, won the Coloring Sheet competition of the Union project, while Terrence Jacks, an MLK Elementary fifth grader, was given the award for Best Collage Sheet. The project Essay Contest winners for grades 9 -12 were Martavious Rollins and Kalis Armstrong. Titola Martin and Erykay Taylor were winners in grades 6 - 8.