Some people send a suitcase or two in advance of a cross-country move, but not Jasmin Amoako. Forget checked luggage, never mind a carry-on: When the artist swapped Ontario for Nova Scotia in 2022 (she’s a master’s student at NSCAD), she sent ahead plans for one of the most eye-catching new public art installations on Agricola Street. (Together with Kawama Kasutu’s water-inspired abstract mural posted loftily above Agricola Street Brasserie, the street is making a case for walking with your head held high—lest you miss seeing something beautiful). Titled “Give Her Flowers”, Amoako’s piece started as an acrylic-on-canvas painting before being converted by the artist into what she describes as “a digital mural.” (She transferred a digital copy of her original painting, in part due to pandemic complications and in part to create something more weatherproof, Amoako, who makes art under the name Jasmin-Nicole, explains when speaking with The Coast by phone. She adds that lots of community input helped the project come together.)
“I know that there is a big Black community that resides in the north end of Halifax. I'm learning, still, about it—and I wouldn't say that I am an expert in that topic. But it was important for me, everywhere I go, to show positive images of Black communities. And so, with this [mural], I really wanted to be intentional that I was showcasing something that can be appreciated by the community, as well, who have been there through history,” Amoako says of her mural, which hangs on the upper portion of the building that houses Cafe Lara, looking out over the intersection of Agricola and Woodill streets.
While being selected by the North End Business Association to recreate one of your most popular pieces to date is a hell of a welcome on its own, it also fits in with Amoako’s broader artistic mission: “I'm very curious about public art. And so, that's the direction I'm going for,” she says. “I think that I would like to pursue more public art because I know the impact it has had on me and my healing as I go through different spaces in the city. Whenever I'm walking around and I see artwork, it just automatically brings me some happiness. And also, most times, I learn something about the community. It makes me feel more connected to the space that I'm in.”
Later, when asked what inspired the painting, Amoako doesn’t hesitate: “This painting was created because of my love for flowers. I love flowers because they symbolize new beginnings, and they are a beautiful pop of color in any space. And, in my artwork, I like to intertwine elements of nature with my depictions of Black womanhood, to emphasize the inherent connection between humanity and the natural environment,” she says. “In my work, in general, I like to inspire dialogue and challenge stereotypical perceptions of the Black community. I also like to foster greater understanding and appreciation of the diverse experiences and narratives within the Black community. And so, I think that is what I was going for putting up this piece: To add that vibrancy, and the joy, and showcasing that interaction with nature as well.”