Arts and Culture

When Louisville’s KMAC Museum reopens Friday, you’ll be greeted by a striking new chalk art mural.

Stephanie Wolf | wfpl.org

Stewart’s mural at the KMAC Museum in Louisville on June 10, 2020.

It’s the work of Louisville artist Jaylin Stewart.

She wanted it to reflect some of the new realities of American life in 2020 — how as businesses, like KMAC, reopen, there are new rules.

Her mural of “larger-than-life figures” wear face masks and “each figure is doing something different with their body or doing something different with their hands,” Stewart said, as she gestured toward the mural’s three figures with her chalk-stained hands. 

The one closest to the front doors is a young boy, giving a salute. Next to him is a woman pressing the palms of her hands together, like Namaste, and another boy waving hello. 

“This is really just showing you how to greet people without actually physically touching them,” she said. “And they are all still smiling, you can tell they’re smiling under their mask. So it’s a very warm welcome.”

Stephanie Wolf | wfpl.org

A mural in process at the KMAC Museum on June 10, 2020.

Stewart said it’s also important to note that the three figures in her work are Black. Because, as a Black artist, she thinks representation is crucial. And while she conceptualized this mural before nationwide protests against racial injustice began, she said the civil unrest we’re witnessing underscores that point. 

“So, it’s just important for me to portray positive images of African American individuals in spaces where you usually do not see them.”

The mural is temporary, on display for just a few months. 

But Stewart likes the temporary nature of chalk art. She said it leaves room for new beginnings.

Stephanie Wolf | wfpl.org

Louisville artist Jaylin Stewart at KMAC Museum on June 10, 2020.

Stephanie Wolf | wfpl.org

A new mural at the KMAC Museum.

Stephanie Wolf | wfpl.org

Stewart’s containers of chalk as she works on a new mural at KMAC.

Support for this story was provided in part by the Great Meadows Foundation.

Stephanie Wolf is WFPL's Arts Reporter.