Artist begins work on Hollywood Transit Center mural
A Hollywood Transit Center mural honoring two men who died during a racially charged confrontation on a MAX train last May features bright colors that fade into dark colors to symbolize day turning to night, and excerpts from the poem "Awakenings" in eight languages.
Artist Sarah Farahat and a team of other artists, educators and activists began work Friday, April 20, on the $70,000 mural that will stretch for more than 2,000 square feet along the transit center's steps.
The mural honors Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche and Ricky Best, who died during the May 26, 2017, confrontation with a man who was berating two young women — one wearing a hijab — and Micah Fletcher, who was critically injured in the attack. It also includes touches from a spontaneous memorial that sprang up at the transit center in the days following the brutal attack, according to TriMet.
Jeremy J. Christian, 35, faces aggravated murder charges, and 16 other charges related to the stabbings. Christian has been in and out of prison and jail since he was 20. A psychological profile filed in the Multnomah County Circuit Court case found that he suffered from several psychological disorders. A trial is scheduled in June 2019.
Symbols of strength
Farahat, an Egyptian-American from a Muslim/Christian family, said the transit center's ramps will include background colors that "represent the shift from sunset to night."
"The Western peony, a native Northwest perennial, winds through the mural," she said. "It is known to hold amazing medicinal properties to aid in the grieving process. Its process of seeding is visually appealing: The petals drop and the seed pods emerge from the center of the flower. On the walls, the peony ultimately blooms and then fruits in the dark background on the large walls facing the light-rail platform, symbolizing the strength of standing up for what you believe in despite difficulty."
The mural features excerpts of the poem "Awakening," by Climbing Poetree, in English, Chinese, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Vietnamese, Arabic and Chinuk (the language of people native to the region). A plaque commemorating the mural project includes a translation.
The ramp's interior walls will feature a train, co-designed by Jamaali Roberts and Farahat, which will include the Hamsa, a symbol of protection used in Christian, Jewish and Muslim traditions. The words Namkai-Meche spoke after being mortally wounded, "Tell everyone on this train I love them," appear on the wall along with several phrases from the spontaneous memorial, TriMet officials said.