Art projects aim to transform image of Prospect Corridor

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A new mural will be unveiled on Prospect Avenue this weekend, and the work that`s gone into it. The new mural is called 'Then and Now' and it covers the entire side of a building.

The effort to bring it to life is spread all around the Prospect Corridor, a neighborhood that`s working to transform its image.

The Kansas City No Violence Alliance is turning city-owned land bank properties into canvases. Ryan Samuelson is a criminology professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and thanks to a $1 million grant received from the Byrne Justice Initiative, pieces of artwork are made by students working with the city`s parks and rec program.

“Art speaks very loudly to a community that might feel like it`s forgotten. It shows there`s still pride in this area. There`s still a commitment to beautify this area,” Samuelson said.

The 3.2-mile area addressed by this program is accustomed to the sights and sound of community panic. Samuelson and his volunteers, who are working in cooperation with law enforcement, say they see potential in a neighborhood that wants to win. The new mural, which will be unveiled on Saturday, speaks to that loud and clear.

“There`s been a lot of change in this neighborhood. Groups are working together that may not have in the past,” Samuelson said.

Marlon Hammons has witnessed the decline for himself.

“I went to church over here at 41st and Montgall,” he said.

He says now is the time for a comeback.

“The message is we have to show love. Show love to the houses. Show love to the people. By doing that, we have to put the work in and demonstrate it,” Hammons said.

The students who created the mural also received lessons in art as a business and overall job skills. ‘Then and Now’ will be unveiled on Saturday afternoon at 1:30 at 39th and Prospect. The public is invited to come check it out.