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Ernesto Maranje and Kevin Ledo recently visited the city of Portland with the good people from AptArt to work collaboratively with the local youth on large murals.

As the wealth divide in the United States grows, so does the number of people made homeless, many of them youth. The psychological and physical impact of homelessness, even temporarily is not something anyone; particularly youth should be forced to experience. To address the reality of growing economic gaps and the impact that divide has on all of society, a public conversation is needed.

To help spark that conversation youth from p:ear worked with Ernesto Maranje to paint a public wall entitled “The Guardian”. The youth painted their identity and things of importance into the shapes of flowers. A larger than life tiger stands guard above the flowers, protecting them as they develop and grow in a dreamy underwater world. Next to the tiger a bird takes flight representing the potential all humans have if nurtured and protected. Elements of coral and sea life adorn the tiger, bird and flowers, highlighting the connection we all share regardless of where we come from or where we are going.

For the second piece, youth from RISE (Refugee and Immigrant Student Empowerment) helped Kevin Ledo paint their ideas across a massive public wall in downtown Portland, Oregon entitled “Under The Same Sky”.

The political climate in the United States is tense. In the lead up to the presidential election, the media and politicians are targeting refugees and immigrants. The founding documents of the United States, created in part by immigrants, proclaim, “All men are created equal”. The youth cut their ideas into stencils with languages ranging from Arabic to Amharic, Burmese to Somali and some Swahili and English in between. The stencils fill the body of a larger than life girl with her gaze turned upwards. A sky blue ribbon wraps around her body and on a clear day disappears into the sky behind her, reminding all that pass by, no matter where you come from, we all live under the same sky.

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