Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Donate your vehicle during the month of April or May and you'll be entered into a $500 Visa gift card drawing!

Photos: ‘Kids want to help’ – a few small hands bring a mural to life in New Haven

A group of children work with New Haven artist Kwadwo Adae on the last part of a mural he’s been painting on the shelter in the Hill neighborhood where they’re staying. Adae said he wrote the grant for the mural under the premise that “everyone deserves to go home to flowers.” “The fact that sometimes you’re in a shelter even though you don’t plan on it, that turns your life upside-down,” he said. “Even though your life is upside-down, those flowers are for you.”
Ryan Caron King
/
Connecticut Public
A group of children work with artist Kwadwo Adae on the last part of a mural he’s been painting on a family shelter in the Hill neighborhood of New Haven.

When New Haven artist Kwadwo Adae proposed painting a three-story mural of orchids on the side of a family shelter in New Haven, he wanted his art to be a part of the community that surrounded it.

During the final stages of painting, he measured out where he could reach and then left everything under that area blank.

Last Friday, kids staying at the shelter helped him finish the mural.

“Our society doesn’t allow kids to do a lot of things … kids want to help,” Adae said. “They want to have control over their environments. They want to be able to change their communities just as much as we do.”

Six-year-old Logan Parker (center) concentrates on his contribution to the mural. Adae said he planned out the last parts of the mural to factor in the heights of the kids working on it and left parts blank just for them to paint. “Kids want to help. They want to have control over their environments. They want to be able to change their communities just as much as we do. But the opportunities aren’t always presenting themselves,” Adae said.
Ryan Caron King
/
Connecticut Public
Sox-year-old Logan Parker (center) concentrates on his contribution to the mural. His aunt, Lyvelis Jusino, took him to paint with his cousins because for her, “painting is therapy,” she says.
Aasiah Jusino-Baez, 4, gets covered in lavender-colored paint as he puts his personal touch on the mural. This is one of several murals Adae has created around town, in an effort to paint murals in Black and brown communities that have been historically targeted by redlineding. “Those are places that have been starved of resources, underdeveloped economically, places where things like thing can brighten people’s dispositions, brighten their day.” Boilerplate caption: New Haven artist Kwadwo Adae puts the finishing touches on a mural he’s been working on in the Hill neighborhood of New Haven - with the help of several kids living in the shelter the mural is painted on. When Adae was writing the grant that would eventually fund the project, he said it was under the premise that “everyone deserves to go home to flowers.” “The fact that sometimes you’re in a shelter even though you don’t plan on it, that turns your life upside-down,” he said. “Even though your life is upside-down, those flowers are for you.” This is one of several murals Adae has created around town - in an effort to paint murals in Black and brown communities that have been redlined. “Those are places that have been starved of resources, underdeveloped economically, places where things like thing can brighten people’s dispositions, brighten their day.”
Ryan Caron King
/
Connecticut Public
Aasiah Jusino-Baez, 4, got covered in paint while working on filling in a lavender background surrounding the orchids that Adae painted. Adae said he wrote the grant for the mural under the premise that “everyone deserves to go home to flowers.”

“The fact that sometimes you’re in a shelter even though you don’t plan on it – that turns your life upside down,” Adae said as he looked up at the mural. “Even though your life is upside down, those flowers are for you.”
Adae and seven-year-old Josiah Baez compare their paint-covered hands. Adae said he wanted to work with kids from the neighborhood and the shelter to share ownership of the art and the creation process. “It’s not just my artwork. It’s our artwork,” he said. “We’re the community and we did this together…the collaborative aspect of it is a really beautiful way to speak visually.”
Ryan Caron King
/
Connecticut Public
Adae and 7-year-old Josiah Baez compare their paint-covered hands. Adae said he wanted to work with kids from the neighborhood and the shelter to share ownership of the art and the creation process. “It’s not just my artwork. It’s our artwork,” he said. “We’re the community and we did this together … the collaborative aspect of it is a really beautiful way to speak visually.”
Jaylin Greene, 6, wipes his eye after finishing up a section of the mural. His aunt, Lyvelis Jusino, has been taking care of him and his cousins at the shelter. She said she took the family out to help with the mural because painting is therapeutic for her. She even got her 7-month-year-old baby to add a few paint strokes to it so she can tell him when he’s older that he helped make the mural.
Ryan Caron King
/
Connecticut Public
Jaylin Greene, 6, wipes his eye after putting in some time painting the wall of the shelter, located in New Haven’s Hill neighborhood. It’s one of several murals Adae has created around the city. He said he’s focused his efforts to create public art in Black and brown communities that have been impacted by redlining. “Those are places that have been starved of resources, underdeveloped economically – places where things like this can brighten people’s dispositions, brighten their day,” Adae said.
Adae said he had a great experience in the neighborhood — people had been leaving bottles of water and ginger ales when he was on the lift and he’s gotten to know all the kids in the neighborhoods. “What happens is whenever you’re in a new place you’re not sure of - people are like ‘oh, you’re going there? oh be careful…you might get mugged.’ all these rumors and hearsay happen. and it’s just always the opposite. it’s always just lovely wonderful people who are living there lives, and happy you’re there consistently to create something for them.” Boilerplate caption: New Haven artist Kwadwo Adae puts the finishing touches on a mural he’s been working on in the Hill neighborhood of New Haven - with the help of several kids living in the shelter the mural is painted on. When Adae was writing the grant that would eventually fund the project, he said it was under the premise that “everyone deserves to go home to flowers.” “The fact that sometimes you’re in a shelter even though you don’t plan on it, that turns your life upside-down,” he said. “Even though your life is upside-down, those flowers are for you.” This is one of several murals Adae has created around town - in an effort to paint murals in Black and brown communities that have been redlined. “Those are places that have been starved of resources, underdeveloped economically, places where things like thing can brighten people’s dispositions, brighten their day.”
Ryan Caron King
/
Connecticut Public
Adae has been working on the mural during the summer’s heat wave – and he said people in the neighborhood have been watching out for him and leaving bottles of water and ginger ale. Passersby will frequently compliment his work, and he’s gotten to know many of the kids who live in the area.

“What happens is whenever you’re in a new place you’re not sure of – people are like, ‘Oh, you’re going there? Oh, be careful … you might get mugged.’ All these rumors and hearsay happen, and it’s just always the opposite,” Adae said. “It’s always just lovely, wonderful people who are living their lives and happy you’re there consistently to create something for them.”
Adae and filmmaker Travis Carbonella, who’s documenting the project, admire the mural nearing completion. Adae said he worked with a local nonprofit that provides free trees to have two new trees planted near the mural. “So after this mural fades,” he said, “there still is an element of beauty here.”
Ryan Caron King
/
Connecticut Public
Adae and filmmaker Travis Carbonella, who’s documenting the project, admire the nearly completed mural. Adae said he worked with a local nonprofit that provides free trees to have two trees planted near the mural. “So after this mural fades,” he said, “there still is an element of beauty here.”

Ryan Caron King joined Connecticut Public in 2015 as a reporter and video journalist. He was also one of eight reporters on the New England News Collaborative’s launch team, covering regional issues such as immigration, the environment, transportation, and the opioid epidemic.
Related Content

You make NHPR possible.

NHPR is nonprofit and independent. We rely on readers like you to support the local, national, and international coverage on this website. Your support makes this news available to everyone.

Give today. A monthly donation of $5 makes a real difference.