A Cuban-born artist is leading a project to create a mural that captures the welcoming spirit of the city of Lancaster.
Claudia Rojas, who arrived in the United States in 2015, will design and direct the project. She will work with Lancaster muralist and community advocate Shauna Yorty.
Rojas and Yorty will host community engagement events to gather public feedback, including a virtual rally later this month. The date for this month’s virtual rally has not been announced.
“It’s a collective and creative project. The community will be involved in the design process,” said Rojas, formerly of Lancaster. “We will be asking questions at community engagement meetings to help people think about the specific topic of being a welcoming city. Then we’ll gather all of their ideas and feedback so we can move on to the concept stage. »
The City of Lancaster and the local Church World Service Welcoming Mural Advisory Council chose Rojas to lead the project.
The mural will be painted on the west wall of Ganse Apothecary, 355 W. King St., Lancaster. The Apothecary, a local retailer of medical supplies and equipment, is located at the four-way intersection of Charlotte, Manor, Strawberry and King streets on the west side of town.
Funding for the $40,000 mural project was provided by the city, the Lancaster County Community Foundation, Landis Homes, the Penn Square Rotary Club and the National Endowment for the Arts. Two Dudes Painting in the Cabbage Hill neighborhood of the city will provide the materials.
In 2019, the Georgia-based nonprofit Welcoming America certified Lancaster as a “welcoming city.” The designation recognizes cities with policies and programs that promote equity and inclusion.
Rojas, who lives in Lebanon, said she was delighted to have been chosen as the artist for the mural project.
“When we arrived in the United States, Lancaster was the first city to welcome us. It was our first house. My art took root and grew in Lancaster and surrounding areas,” she said. “This community is part of me, and I am part of it; and it is this feeling that I share with so many other immigrants that I want to transmit with this project. I have a passion for different cultures and traditions which taught me common symbolism and artistic manifestations.
Rojas will create a few concepts to consider before choosing one, and she will actively participate in the painting process with volunteers and people from the community.
“I am just a tool. I’m the person who will translate the message from the community into a visual for the wall, which looks slightly different depending on how everyone involved approaches the project, but certainly comes with constant feedback and opportunities to be heard,” Rojas said.
The final design is expected to be chosen in August, with the mural being painted in September during Welcome Week, which runs from September 9-18.