The Conversation: Nicole Holderbaum

Nicole Holderbaum
Artist, Founder/Director
Kids’ Mural Project

Conversation with and photograph by Tiffany Manning

You had the privilege of attending both an arts middle school and an arts high school, which gave you the incredible benefit of a well rounded education. Unfortunately, a lot of children don’t have that same opportunity. Is that why you founded the Kids’ Mural Project?
I definitely think I took it for granted. Looking back, it was the greatest experience of my life. It’s amazing to see all of the people I went to school with and what they’re doing now. They’re all amazing artists and creative people doing incredible stuff. I was inspired to simply do something for the community, something bigger than myself, and something that genuinely contributed to the greater good. I chose to work with kids, and I saw how impactful the experience was for both me and them. The more I got involved, the more I saw how important and impactful creativity is, and the more I wanted to continue doing what I’m doing. Every child benefits from the opportunity to freely express themselves through conversation, and also through painting the murals. A lot of kids, like myself, don’t thrive in areas like mathematics, chemistry, etc., and therefore can feel inferior or not good enough. Having the opportunity to thrive creatively shows them that they are worthy and have the potential within them to achieve greatness. A lot of kids also have different styles of learning. Some students are labeled “behaviorally challenged” because they do not succeed in the standard classroom environment, but when those kids in particular participate in our mural projects they absolutely thrive. You can’t peel them away from the wall!

How many schools have you worked with so far and what is your perspective on the impact this opportunity has on the children?
We have worked with twenty-eight schools so far. One school in West Palm Beach where I grew up, and the rest here in Jacksonville. I believe that what we are doing has a sincere impact on the children we work with. I believe it has the power to inspire them to find their passion and purpose, which is incredibly empowering and can truly enable a child to persist through the difficulties that they are faced with in life and come out on top. Freedom of expression allows you to understand who you are and establish an identity. Having a sense of self, and developing an identity gives you confidence and allows you discover your purpose and passion. Confidence leads to success, and allows these children to face the world with their heads raised high and with hope in their hearts.

How are you currently funding the murals and what is your target goal for this year?
Right now we have extremely limited funding, and we can’t do many projects. We are working to find creative ways to raise money, and to find like-minded businesses and organizations to partner with. By the time this article comes out, we will have released our plans for 2018-2019, and will hopefully be making connections with businesses, brands, and organizations that share our core values and believe in our vision.

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Author: Arbus

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