Columbia's C.A.R.E. Program helps children make impact on community

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COLUMBIA - A mural that represents a bright future from a troubled past will be painted this summer on the Stewart Road underpass wall.

The mural will commemorate the lynching of James T. Scott. The project will feature prominent black leaders and symbolism throughout the mural. Organizers want the community to recognize the past wrongdoings and learn from it. 

Much of the work is done through the C.A.R.E. art program.  

The Columbia Career Awareness Related Experience brings in people between the ages of 14 to 20 to learn about art history and build their artistic abilities over the summer.

C.A.R.E. Art Gallery Coordinator Bethanie Irons said the program has given participants an outlet to use their artwork for personal expression and possibly make money from it.

“I ask them about their artistic experience. I’m not necessarily looking for people that have the greatest art skills. I’m looking for people passionate about art, that like to do art, and want to learn,” Irons said. “All the trainees that were hired for the summer really have that passion and that passion for learning.”

The paintings made by the trainees are expected to be displayed in the Columbia Public Library with the theme “building a better world."

One trainee, Zack Roberts, believes his art can send a message to the community.

“I guess really it helps people see tomorrow. A better future, a beacon of hope, something like that, really inspirational,” Roberts said.

C.A.R.E. trainees have also contributed to the murals, including one on Locust Street.

Orlando Smith, a former C.A.R.E. participant who is now with the resident arts program in Columbia, helped lead in the design of the mural on Stewart Road.

He says his purpose for being in the C.A.R.E. program was to make connections for a future in art.

“When I went to the C.A.R.E. program, it was 'how can I better myself and my future? What can I do?' So for me, it was making connections,” Smith said. “Then, when I got into an art community like resident arts, it was, 'what’s the next big thing I can do that it’s going to look cool and people are going to appreciate.'”

Rebecca Gray also believes the program helped her develop a future in art.

“I think the program actually helps you grow as a person and get job experience. A lot of us are high schoolers, so it helps show how you can go into better careers,” Gray said. “It shows that there are people that care about this community and are willing to spend time to create art for people to see. It makes people realize it isn’t something you want to ruin.”

According to Irons, the trainees will exhibit their art on July 7 and will help paint the mural on the Stewart Road underpass on July 8.