In his youth, Jalen trained as a boxer to learn self-defense. He was inspired by the intimacy of Western New York’s boxing community — and Calvin “Pop” Porter was one of the most famous. In 2016, Jalen developed a curriculum for hospice patients, giving them the opportunity to document their legacy with portraits and audio recordings. These modalities were designed to help the patients find closure and to provide a sense of comfort for their grieving loved ones.
Putting these two experiences together, Jalen designed this mural to honor Porter’s career and impact on the lives of those he touched in Niagara Falls. The colors Jalen used were purposefully chosen to pull in people from all walks of life, inviting them to interact and engage with the work on a deeper level. The techniques Jalen utilized are inspired by West African storytelling tradition, which is rooted in multiple forms of stimulation, such as rhythm and music. Jalen took those different components as inspiration for the lines and color in his piece to tell a story about a man who was not only a boxer, but a son, a father, a mentor, and a lifesaver for those who may have otherwise gone on a wrong path if Porter hadn’t inspired them.
To learn more about Porter’s story, viewers can scan the QR code on the right of the mural, which will take them to Jalen’s website, where he has posted interviews he conducted with two of Porter’s family members to learn more about who he was and what he meant to the Niagara Falls community.