Colors, cultures mingle in New Castle | AspenTimes.com

Colors, cultures mingle in New Castle

April E. Clark
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

Burim Rexhepi, left, Zahir Kabashi and Teuta Ibrqaj, all artists visiting from Kosovo, work on painting a mural of the Flat Tops Wednesday afternoon in New Castle. (Kara K. Paulson/Post Independent)

NEW CASTLE, Colo. ” Arta Berisha was thinking of home Tuesday afternoon.

The 27-year-old translator from Kosovo is assisting with the 4-by-24-foot mural project at the New Castle Branch Library. The colorful landscape will permanently hang on the brick library building in downtown New Castle.

“The scenery, the mountains are similar to mountains in Kosovo. And the pine trees there, we have those,” she said. “It reminds me of home.”

The project serves as a cultural exchange with Americans and Eastern Europeans. Teuta Ibrigaj is one of three visiting artists adding her creative touch to the project.

“I think it’s a very good idea, getting to know different people,” Ibrigaj said. “I wish there could be more of this (in Kosovo). It’s very challenging … And this is a totally different area that’s very accepting of art.”

Cheryl Currier, Garfield County Public Library District board president, organized the mural project after visiting the Balkan area a year ago. She and her family participated in a mural project in Kosovo, helping paint a landscape of a bridge to symbolize reconciliation. A smaller version of that mural is painted on the back side of the New Castle Branch Library.

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“The war in Kosovo … in 1998, there are still a lot of hard feelings between the Serbs and the Albanians,” she explained. “We asked if there would be an opportunity to paint a mural. Teuta arranged the site where we painted in Vitia.”

In exchange for mural painting in Kosovo, Ibrigaj worked with Currier to bring similar community art to New Castle.

“I think art is so great in crossing boundaries. It’s a way for people to communicate outwards,” Currier said. “In just trying to communicate, there have been a lot of great opportunities to broaden friendships. That’s not something you can do just by having coffee.”

Berisha is helping with communication during the project, which concludes with a mural dedication ceremony at noon Sunday.

Berisha’s experience, and the rest of the group’s, has been positive.

“I find American people to be very warm. They have welcomed us,” she said. “I have the feeling like I’m at home.”

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