Jermaine “JP” Powell is a mixed media artist who has been hard at work bringing this city to visual life at the Ramsey Street and Interstate 295 interchange in North Fayetteville.
He’s completed one colorful mural. Now he’s moving across the way for another.
“It is called ‘We Are Fayetteville: The Future,’” Powell says. “Fayetteville business, industry, entertainment and technology are the themes. There is a windmill in the center, which to me symbolizes power, continual movement and the positive momentum of the city.”
He just put the finishing touches on the first mural on Friday.
“It is called ‘We Are Fayetteville: The Legacy,’” Powell says. “Community, family, agriculture, nature and environmental themes are depicted. There are so many beautiful trees in the North side and around the city that I wanted to capture in the mural. There is a large tree in the center of the mural that symbolizes Fayetteville’s roots and its continual growth. The leaves symbolize the great people and history that are produced here.”
Plans for the murals have been part of the Fayetteville Corridor Revitalization project since February 2020, according to a release from the Arts Council of Fayetteville-Cumberland County. The project is in collaboration with the Arts Council and Fayetteville-Cumberland Parks & Recreation, the city of Fayetteville, Cumberland County and the N.C. Department of Transportation. It is supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Arts Council said.
Powell, a resident of Fuquay-Varina, was among 14 artists nationwide who applied for the task of bringing the murals to life, the Arts Council said. Based on his digital portfolio and strength of design, the committee selected Powell via blind jury as the murals creator. The mural design, according to the Arts Council, was approved by the Fayetteville Public Arts Commission and the City Council.
Powell, who trained at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, estimates he will spend six to 10 hours a day working on the second mural. If the weather cooperates, he hopes the second mural will be completed in four to six weeks.
Bob Pinson, interim president of the Arts Council, says murals are welcoming community efforts. The fact that Powell lives nearby was a plus for the project, he says.
“I feel this local connection aided the creative process as he was able to relate to the stories he gathered from neighborhood residents,’’ Pinson says. “JP incorporated these stories into the vision and images for the mural. This project strives to turn community gateways into great ways to enter Fayetteville, creating a sense of place reflective of the city’s inclusive, yet diverse, areas and neighborhoods.”
Michele Horn is the project manager.
“Jermaine Powell is a storyteller through his art form as an accomplished artist-muralist,” Horn says. “His tagline affirms, and he truly does embody ‘art history in the making.’ The northside murals' sheer magnitude in size and scale can only be produced by a professional, and we were fortunate to find that in JP.”
Kathy Keefe Jensen is the mayor pro tem and has represented the City Council in North Fayetteville’s District 1 since 2013.
“I enjoy watching the progress of the mural day to day,” Jensen says. “The green and gold colors and pine trees are my favorite. I am excited to see the Goodyear tire-maker on Phase II. I believe it is a welcoming look to our gateway.”
As for Powell, he says his work is art with a purpose.
“My goal with my artwork is to bring people and communities together,” Powell says. “The positive response of the mural, so far, continues to inspire me to paint a great work of art for the city of Fayetteville to be proud of.
“The mural is about them truly; the many people who make Fayetteville so unique. To me, Fayetteville is one of the most unique cities in North Carolina. Many people have told me that Fayetteville is a great place to work and live.”
Bill Kirby Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 910- 624-1961.