Students' 'Super Heroes' mural pays tribute to slain artist
OAKLAND, Calif. (Rob Roth/KTVU) - Underneath the overpass at Interstate 580 in West Oakland, more than 100 people celebrated a work of art and the child artists who helped create it.
"They should encourage people to stop doing bad things," said 11-year-old artist T.J. Smith Saing.
He is one of about 25 fifth graders who designed, created and walked several blocks from Hoover Elementary School on late afternoons to help paint the mural.
It's called 'Super Heroes', action figures the students dreamed up, who watch over a neighborhood that could use some watching over.
"To stop all the violence. Violence is not good for children to see," explained fifth grade artist Ka'Naya Brasley. "Just think of all the good things you could do today."
"There was a shooting. And it went through my house. I could have died," said Smith Saing
"I am so proud to see beauty, such vision, such power," Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said at the mural unveiling.
The students spent two years on this work of art. It stands directly across the street from another mural, where an artist was killed while helping to paint it.
Antonio Ramos was working on this mural at 35th and West streets when a man shot him to death, apparently for his camera in September 2015.
"He brought a lot of love, a lot of light and tenacity to the project. He was probably the biggest cheerleader and a lover of public art," said Amana Harris of the non-profit Attitudinal Healing Connection.
The just completed mural is dedicated to Ramos.
"It feels like we're carrying on with the new generation," said Ka'Naya.
The mural is the fourth in the neighborhood, all involving students.
The projects are sponsored and organized by the non-profit, attitudinal healing connection. The organization is raising money for another mural.
"We want our young people to think about how to be problem solvers," said Harris.
The student artists say they are proud of their work. They know, years from now, when they're all grown, their art most likely will still be standing.
"Every day I still look at it. Like wow, I can't believe I really did that," said Ka'Naya.