Spreading BLM Positivity through Beautiful Street Murals
The reason that I chose this artifact as well as the sources that went along with it was because I wanted to pick an artifact that spread lots of positivity throughout the area I live in after some of the worst times that allowed people to get together as one and do something as a community. The mural itself is each letter spelled out of “BLACK LIVES MATTER,” each letter painted with a representation of what each individual artist wanted to showcase and what message they wanted to display involving the movement to help spread awareness.
Around last summer when the BLM movement surrounding the death of George Floyd was a huge matter and people were protesting and rioting, the city of Worcester got pretty damaged as it got later in the day and the peaceful protesting turned chaotic. The protest did remain peaceful throughout the day, but as it got dark, stored were robbed, police officers were harassed with smoke bombs and fireworks, which I distinctly remember seeing on a snapchat story from an eighteen-story building in the city and somebody threw fireworks out the window at police officers who had to assemble in riot gear.
The reason that this has a connection to the theme of my mini-exhibition is because my exhibition is on the Black Lives Matter movement and how artists used their creativity and talent to spread awareness and positivity surrounding the BLM movement. One of the artists who worked on this mural said: “It incites the passion within us to carry on in a way that can’t be ignored. It unified creative minds and gave hope to many people who needed it, Some people just see a dumb mural. But what it does is it brings attention to the immediate need for these conversations to be had and shoves that in the faces of our leaders and nay-sayers.” This mural was painted by Nicole Coleman, Narvicto DeJesus, Sharinna Travieso, Amber Tortorelli, Amora Andino, Laura Evonne Steinman, Coca Shahed, Edgardo Rodriguez, Khalil Guzman-Jerry, William “Slim Dawg” Santiago, Kristian Rodriguez, Tiger Gaskin, Blaze Diaz, Joshua Croke, Savonne R. Pickett, Alexandra Marie, Brian Denahy, Hana Lasell, Eric Fogger, William Thompson, Richelle Gray, Dwayne Glave, Jennessa Burks, Eamon Gillen, Arli and Edmy Ortiz, and last but not least Ferdinand Nazario. They all came together to work on letter by letter each explaining the significance and meaning behind their choice of designs inside their letter. Some features in these letters painted by each individual artist include the Tree of Life all the way to African origins and flags. They all explain how they wanted to help spread awareness and make an impact.
This mural is found just in front and adjacent to the DCU Center, which is one of the biggest attractions in the city of Worcester. Individual artists talked about how this project allowed them to feel united and empowered together as one in the “rough times” and “instills love and inspires hope.” This type of work brings people together no matter what your race or religion and allows every person to feel involved and empowered. When the artists described how this project made them feel they used words such as "honoring," "pride," "illuminating," "love," "empowerment", and "understanding" were just some of the many emotions that this mural left on not only those who created and worked on it but the community as well.
One question that this raises for me is why these times need to be rough at all. If things as simple as painting a mural could make people feel united and spread awareness, why can things like these be used to spread awareness rather than imposing violence and hateful acts? The reason I thought this was such a powerful artifact and so good to use because it helps to spread awareness in a positive manner and bring people together in an effective way, and because it is part of my hometown and will forever be a piece of history for the BLM movement in one of the major cities in Massachusetts. It is also both different and similar in different aspects to my previous artifact because it surrounds the idea of how different art forms have helped to make an impact and change the BLM movement, and instead of the art of song and lyrics, this artifact presents physical street art that will leave a permanent impact on the BLM Movement in New England.
The personal significance of this artifact to me is because this is from my hometown/city and because I saw this mural up close and in person, and it really does draw your attention and spread a positive message. It makes people gather and come together as a community and want to do better. It spreads the message of coming together to make positive change especially because it was painted shortly after the protests and riots. This mural also sparked more artistic vision throughout the city of Worcester, inspiring the George Floyd murals and inspired the community to participate in the #blackouttuesday movement for justice against police brutality and racial stereotyping.
“19 arrested in Worcester after police were hit with rocks, fireworks.” WCVB 5, 3 June 2020, https://www.wcvb.com/article/multiple-arrests-made-in-worcester-massachusetts-after-protesters-clash-with-police/32737462.
“About $10,000 worth of clothing, sneakers stolen from EbLens in Worcester by looters." MassLive, 2 June 2020, https://www.masslive.com/worcester/2020/06/about-10000-worth-of-clothing-sneakers-stolen-from-eblens-in-worcester-by-looters.html.
Berg, Matt. “Massive Black Lives Matter mural in Worcester painted by local artists, hundreds of volunteers.” Boston Globe, 16 July 2020, https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/07/16/metro/massive-black-lives-matter-mural-worcester-painted-by-local-artists-hundreds-volunteers/.
“See photos of Worcester’s Black Lives Matter mural, with unique designs in each letter by local artists." MassLive, 15 July 2020, https://www.masslive.com/worcester/2020/07/see-photos-of-worcesters-black-lives-matter-mural-with-unique-designs-in-each-letter-by-local-artists.html.
Semon, Craig S. “‘Beyond the Paint’ spotlights artists behind Black Lives Matter Mural." Telegram and Gazette, 13 August 2020, https://www.telegram.com/story/entertainment/local/2020/08/13/beyond-paint-spotlights-artists-behind-worcesters-black-lives-matter-mural/113861886/.