Eatonville on the rise: Celebrating the town’s history, unity through art

Mural project aims to inspire

EATONVILLE, Fla. – The town of Eatonville in Orange County is on the rise.

It recently became part of the “Rise” Mural Project -- a group of local artists and poets that came together for their love of art and community spirit, to tell the story of Eatonville, a town rich in history.

Together with the Eatonville Cultural and Heritage Foundation, the Art of Collab selected seven muralists, six poets and two calligraphy artists to revitalize a part of Elizabeth Park. Located inside the basketball court, the murals feature iconic names and portraits of historical people.

Curators of the mural project said they hope the murals will serve to inspire Eatonville’s younger generation to aim high.

“Rise kind of came up out of just, like, wanting to uplift people and, you know, give that idea that you could aspire and you could, you know, come up out of anything and be stronger and better,” Nathaly Ruiz said.

Among the artists selected are Sara Berlin, who created a mural that represents birth.

“She collaborated with a local poet, Juaquina She, and if you read it closely it says: ‘I hope that when you look up, you see yourself because you sparkle as bright as the sun,’” Mariah Román, a curator of the project said. “We wanted it to be a project where when you looked at it, you felt inspired by every word.”

Each mural includes words from a local poet that was paired with an artist. The idea is to create a sense of unity and hope.

“Let these kids know, continue to live your dreams through art, poetry, whatever you love to do, just go ahead, live your life and live your best life,” said Jason “Tie” Davis, one of the local artists. “We’re gonna add some old-school games like four squares, hopscotch, boomerang, stuff like that, some games that we all remember as kids that were very simplified games but they brought unity and they brought good fun.”

Davis designed a polygon-shaped map of the United States using vibrant colors.

Muralist Germán Lemus wanted to honor one of the Harlem Renaissance leaders, Zora Neale Hurston -- an author, activist and anthropologist who grew up in Eatonville.

“She had that, you know, ‘I’m gonna do it on my own terms’ sort of attitude and she wasn’t gonna have it any other way, so she was a big influence,” Lemus said about Hurston, who advocated to protect the rights of African-Americans.

“Words don’t describe it -- it’s like beautiful...awesome,” Jeannete Brown said.

She was on her way down to South Florida but took a detour to check out the mural.

“I wanted to be in the town that she wrote about -- the picture does her justice because she was such a powerful woman who didn’t get her dues,” Brown said.

On Feb. 9, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., a mural reveal will take place for the community to celebrate Eatonville’s rise.

Other artists include:

  • A.J. Barbel
  • Christian Stanley
  • Saint Jose Fuertez
  • Joe Starkweather
  • Gina Tyquiengco
  • Little Lilly Lettering

To support the mural project click or tap here.