Embracing Diversity Through Art

Student artwork to be displayed on traffic signal boxes in Whittier.

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“The cultural diversity of this neighborhood [Whittier] is awesome,” says Eric Van Beek of Clean Slate Group, “and they celebrate it… which they should.”

Six traffic signal boxes in the Whitter neighborhood are coming to life through artwork designed by Whitter Middle School students.

Close to 40 pieces of artwork will be printed on graffiti-resistant laminates on Cliff Avenue, near 6th Street.

Van Beek is helping to make the project happen, but he says it’s the students who are showing the meaning behind it.

“Well the kids kind of took upon themselves to make it more of not just showing diversity but how we can be diverse and still lives harmoniously,” he added.

The goal of this project is simple. It is to show artistically how diverse this area neighborhood is.

Krista Baartman with the Whittier residents association says it’s a win-win; a chance to showcase the student artwork while also highlighting the diversity.

“We could really take the talent of the students and use that to our benefit,” says Baartman, we have so much diversity and culture in our neighborhood, and it’s such a beautiful thing and we really needed to highlight that.”

The paintings symbolize much more than a melting pot of cultures. Baartman says they act as a confidence booster for the young artists, who want to grow and live in a world similar to Whittier.

“They shouldn’t be ashamed of who they are,” she says, “they should be able to be proud of their diversity and to have that confidence in knowing that ‘I am different’, but we all feel inside the same things.”

At the very least, the murals act as a colorful reminder to those who drive by, that everyone matters.