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Belize City Council Unveils September Mural

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many challenges for Belize and its people and undoubtedly, it has muted the celebration season this September. But it could be argued that the coronavirus has forced the country to be more creative – and that creativity was on display today in Belize City. Artists, Alex Sanker, Keon Griffith, and Chelsea (kel-si) Johnston completed a mural on the northwestern corner fences of Rogers Stadium. It is part of a number of activities that’s being done in all cities and towns to mark the September celebrations. Minister responsible for culture, Francis Fonseca told the media today that he was impressed by the work.

Francis Fonseca, Minister of Health and Wellness

Francis Fonseca, Minister of Health and Wellness: “I’m very very proud of all the artists who have participated in this project. They did beautiful, fantastic murals all across the country and as I said earlier it’s something obviously we’re celebrating this month and Belize’s fortieth birthday but it’s something we have to encourage all year round. We have to get our artists engaged in different projects throughout the country so it’s definitely something that we will focus on at NICH.”

Sanker highlighted the need for Belizeans to be proud of themselves and called for more doors to be opened for artists. Johnston added that this includes women too.

Alex Sanker, Belizean Artists: “A 72 year old gentleman came on a bike and he sat right here on his bicycle and he watched me painting, me and Chelsea, Keon was on that side. And what almost hurt me when he asked me which part of the states you’re from. You know what that is telling you my brother? We don’t have to detail , the thing is there is the talent here. We are not giving the opportunities.”

Chelsea Johnston, Belizean Artists: “Being a female in the industry we don’t have – people look down on, look at artists more as a male type thing, muralist as a male type thing and they came out here sweating and I as in the sun hot sweating just like them. We can do it as females also, we have a lot of females that are very creative and painting walls also. I do a lot of murals and every talk show and stuff that I do I also always call them out. Females – I know males yes but you we see a lot of males. Females I know a lot of you are out there contact me and I would put you out here too you know ? I get a lot of jobs doing murals and art jobs I could help you guys out. And you don’t even have to get the job put it on to somebody else.” 

For his part, Belize City Mayor Bernard Wagner welcomed the spectacular artwork and said it is a reminder of how far the country has come and the journey it has ahead.

Bernard Wagner, Mayor of Belize City: “It’s how the artists visualize the journey of Belize and certainly you have to look at it through their eyes. I am pleased with it. Clearly the fact that they are able to capture the journey of Belize from 1981 you could clearly see on the picture you have George Price, Philip Goldson two of the great icons in the country leading up to wards independence. You also have this ethnic component demonstrating the ethnic diversity of Belize that’s very important and it also captures some of the people that we have come accustomed to know within our country; the Lord Rhaburns, the Leela Vernons and those artists and finally when you are able to see the individual pulling the flag it’s opening that door, that window to the next forty, next fifty years of the journey for our independent nation Belize.”

The artists say that the work took them about two weeks to complete.