Arts and Culture

The day after Forecastle is always kind of a downer: the music has stopped, the stages are deconstructed, the tents are folded up and put away until next year. But a piece of Forecastle 2016 will live on at the Muhammad Ali Center forever.

Casey Harden is manager of collections at the Ali Center. On Sunday, she and several other artists worked to finish a special painting: a reimagination of the famous portrait of Ali boxing underwater, taken by photographer Flip Schulke.

“There are these bands of color that shoot out from him — yellow, orange, red and different shades of blue,” Harden said. “The meaning of the painting is that we are a reflection of Muhammad and from that reflection, we shine out to the world.”

As the group worked on the painting during the festival, a sign hung in large block letters at the top of the 8 by 4-foot canvas with the question, “What are you fighting for?” Nearby was a manila envelope stuffed with small slips of paper on which festival-goers provided their answers.

“What we’re doing right now is going through the slips of paper and writing on these bands that are shooting out from Muhammad,” she said. “That’s what makes this piece truly interactive.”

Mary and Mike Bennett visited Forecastle from Indianapolis. They stopped by to add their voices to the painting.

“So right now we have written ‘Love, Peace and Justice,’” Mary Bennett said. “We are fighting for our kids, Solomon and Gabriel, to have a better world.”

Harden said participants have answered the question in a variety of ways — with responses ranging from those similar to the Bennett’s, to those wishing for a healthier environment, to one that really impacted the Ali Center staff.

“Someone actually from Bosnia wrote on there ‘Peace for my country,’” Harden said. “This is certainly an international project. Muhammad was an international man, a man of the world — and so this mural actually shows that as well.”

Now that the painting is complete, Harden said it will be framed, wrapped and “stored in the Ali Center archives for eternity.” They may bring it out to the festival again next year, but in the meantime, she said that it will serve an educational purpose.

“I think that any time we can get Muhammad — and what he stood for — in front of individuals that might not otherwise have known him, that is really important to us,” Harden said. “We have an initiative called Generation Ali, and that is taking this new and younger generation to make them the next world leaders.”