A New Color: The Art of Being Edythe Boone
Director, Mariene (Mo) Morris
Producer, Marlene (Mo) Morris
An avid artist, teacher and activist, Edythe Boom has passionately applied her artistic gifts to express powerful messages in her long pursuit of social justice, community service and a voice for the underserved communities in which she’s lived.
This documentary reveals the extraordinary life of the woman who was born to a 14 year old mother, and raised by an Orthodox Jewish family until she was seven. It follows her life as a single mother of three boys in Harlem, from which she literally fled, with hopes of protecting her sons from New York’s crack epidemic, to the West Coast. Before she left, however, Edythe had already left her mark on Harlem in which they’d lived, having organized the tenants of their dilapidated building to join forces to paint a gallery of murals on their unsightly walls.
Over the years, Edythe has become an iconic figure in places such as Berkley and San Francisco. Using her art to address a wide range of social issues, from the plight of the poor and underserved, to women’s rights and racial discrimination. Her work and collaborations with other artists can be viewed on such distinguished sites as the “Oakland Wall Speaks,” where murals painted in a housing project depicts the ravages of crack addiction. Her later accomplishments include the landmark 1994 Mission District “Maestrapeace” mural on The Women’s Building , as well as the “We Remember” AIDS and “Let a Thousand Parks Bloom” projects.
It is Edythe’s tireless contribution to thousands of students, however, that is the focus in the interviews with people who’ve directly benefited from her work. She’s been the instrument of change, even as she puts the instruments of art in their hands, helping the voiceless to find their voice, solace and deep sense of accomplishments. Typically, it has played out art projects that beautify communities that have been ravaged by crime, violence and the other staggering effects of poverty and hopelessness. It’s art therapy at its best.
Edythe was an activist, and deeply concerned about the violence confronting inner city youths, long before Black Lives Matte. Unfortunately, she would experience the painful realities on a very personal level in 2014, when her own nephew, Eric Garner died during a police chokehold in New York. The incident was captured on video and contributed to the national outcry against police violence against black men.
A New Color: The Art of Being Edythe Boone is a stirring film that leaves viewers awestruck by the powerful impact of an artist’s contributions. One is disturbed by our society’s ongoing social problems, but hopeful that Edythe’s work will continue to inspire social change and activism.