• Rhonda Craven

SPOTLIGHT ON PULL - Artist April Heather Art

SPOTLIGHT ON PULL Artist: April Heather Art

It was an absolute honor to work on the PULL station! I had a ball!

My mission was to create a piece that reflected the East Linden neighborhood—its rich history and diversity. East Linden was a stop on the Underground Railroad! I felt a big responsibility to portray the history AND the present in my illustrations. One side has a house set in the late 1800’s and the other side has a modern E. Linden house. The Quakers and Free Blacks in the region helped many slaves escape via the Underground Railroad so they are portrayed on the 1800’s side. I checked out a couple of books from the library to read about their bravery. I also met with the Study Buddies group at the church. This is a group of kids that come after school to do homework and activities. I loved hearing what they wanted to see on the PULL station. (There were mentions of unicorns and rainbows—I couldn’t get it ALL in!) One girl requested a Mexican flag-since that’s her family's country of origin. I painted that on a boy’s t-shirt (he’s pictured on the front porch-modern side). I wanted to highlight the diversity of East Linden and I was so happy to get the feedback from the kids!

The top of the box is positioned so that the left front corner is facing north. I read that the slaves used the North Star (the North Star doesn’t change position like other stars, it always points North) as their guide, or route, to freedom-so I illustrated a hand holding a compass against the night sky. I painted the North Star on the upper left front corner on the roof. The other side of the roof has the tops of the houses in East Linden (I went for a walk there and took photos of some of the houses). Each house has a candle in the window—some say that this was a sign of a “safe house” along the Underground Railroad routes. I’m not sure if that’s historically accurate- there’s conflicting info on that--but I thought it would be a beautiful symbol in my piece.

I also included a quote from Harriet Tubman and one from Bayard Taylor.

Lastly, since the box was going to be stationed by the dog park I thought it would be fun to include that as well (back side), showing the community coming together at Anson B Nixon park.


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