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BW MBA alum's public art initiative helps create 'Black Lives Matter' street mural

The business of the arts often lies at the intersection of creativity and entrepreneurship, but a passion for civic engagement and social justice also fuels the latest artistic project led by BW MBA grad Stamy Paul '94.

Courage and grit

A Black Live Matters street mural project, led by Stamy Paul, MBA '94, was featured in Cleveland media reports.By day, Paul is an accomplished human resources executive currently serving as a division vice president for Airgas.

Her nonprofit side job, since 2013, is described by as "brightening walls around town" as founder and president of Graffiti HeArt, a nonprofit that commissions graffiti murals that do much more than just beautify Cleveland.

With a homepage declaration that "Art is courageous; Heart is gritty," Graffiti HeArt has sought to inspire "health and art in the community" by providing representation and fair compensation for graffiti artists and revitalization of community spaces as well as art school scholarships for 30 underserved students to date.

Street statement

Street mural photo credit: Cleveland MagazineThe nonprofit's latest project found Paul teaming up with the nonprofit Random Acts of Kindness Everywhere (RAKE) to lead dozens of artists and activists to create a huge Black Lives Matter street mural, similar to projects on city streets in Washington, Seattle, Cincinnati, Brooklyn, New York, and Oakland, California.

Cleveland Police closed a multi-block stretch of East 93rd Street over the Juneteenth weekend to create the massive concrete canvas.

While leaders of Black Lives Matter Cleveland have pressed the city to take action beyond the street mural's artistic expression of support, according to reports on WOIO-TV 19, Cleveland Magazine and other media outlets, the act of creating the artistic statement brought the community together.

BW artist connections

Photo courtesy Bob PeckThe project drew at least one artist with BW connections who shares Paul's passion for public art with a message.

Rich Cihlar '02, manager at BW's Fawick Art Gallery and studio art department, teamed up with his friend, Bob Peck, (as an art duo called "Don't Panic!") to paint the "I" in the mural, with each letter expressing a different artistic style.

Phoenix mural photo courtesy Rich CihlarTheir approach was reminiscent of another recent mural by the pair.

In the midst of the pandemic, the two also painted a 10-by-25-foot mural featured in FreshWater Cleveland with a colorful Phoenix and "Cleveland Strong" message of "Temper us in Fire And we grow stronger!"

What's next?

Like so many BW grads, community and civic engagement are a way of being for Paul. She also serves as the board chair for the University Hospital Regional Hospitals, is on the advisory board of the Cleveland Institute of Art, and is on the Cleveland City Planning Commission Board.

Where will Paul and Graffiti HeArt find their next canvas? "We are gearing up to announce a large mural project in the St. Clair-Superior community, bringing world-renowned Beau Stanton to CLE to paint one of his epic murals," Paul shares.

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