By LeShea Agnew
Artist Gonz Jove has spent the past couple of months diligently creating Missouri’s longest and largest mural depicting African American history. He’s designing the piece for Better Family Life’s Cultural, Educational and Business Center. Jove is an internationally renowned muralist who was born in La Paz, Bolivia. Jove’s family immigrated to the U.S. when he was ten years old.
Jove began drawing and painting at an early age, he then formalized his studies at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville. He graduated in 1978 with extensive coursework in Architecture and Mathematics. Although Jove’s degree is in sculpting, his activity in art includes painting with a keen eye for design and detail and today is considered one of the foremost muralists in Bolivia.
Over the summer, Jove caught the attention of Better Family Life’s CEO and founder Malik Ahmed while working in the organization’s Youth Department. The two immediately teamed up for the project called the African American and Empowerment Mural Project. The mural depicts the rich culture of heritage in the African American Diaspora, struggles and resilience of descendents with relevance to African American life. The 80 ft long mural’s images will also include personalities, natural settings, events, accomplishments, challenges, growths and declines found woven into the fabrics of African American history.
“I see murals as expressions of the world in which we live. They create a visual language that transcends time and create visual dialogues of social, cultural, and sometimes controversial issues that develop a shared social conscience. My function, as the artist, is to communicate these stories with the license of art,” says Jove.
Jove’s son Alex has assisted his father in not only the initial phases of research for the mural but he’s also helping to design and paint the historic piece. The central theme of the mural is empowerment and is expected to be completed by November. The mural is located on the 1st floor of the grand hallway of BFL’s Culture Center on Page Blvd and guests are welcomed to view Jove as he works.
Better Family Life has acquired several grants to make the mural possible including grants and equipment donations from Black Art Materials, Morrison Brickwork, and Ace Rental and Sales.