Greensboro mural in the works

By Mary Windsor, Staff Writer

Published in print Sept.10, 2014

The Greensboro Mural Project is an arts organization that engages the people of Greensboro in the process of creating murals through dialogue across the community. The Greensboro Mural Project uses public art as a tool to communicate, record history and make Greensboro more beautiful.

The Greensboro Mural Project has proposed to create a transportation themed mural, which will be located on a retaining wall on the corner of Friendly and Mendenhall street, and Jeff Beck, a local artist will be painting it along with other community members. Any passer-by is encouraged to help during the creation process.

Alyzza May, who co-founded the project along with Katrina Siladi in 2011, was initially set on reclaiming public space by creating community collaborative murals.

“Art is something that is often in private spaces and costly, whereas with murals we are aiming at taking back the commons with public art that people are part of the creation process,” said May. “This is a way to increase access, and attempt to be more representative of the community.”

This entire transportation mural, along with all the murals to date, have been locally funded through grassroots fundraisers and the public who support the idea and cause through donations.

The Greensboro Mural Project has run two Kickstarter campaigns and have had over 150 supporting donators.

Recently, the project has received additional funding through Elsewhere’s Partners In The City, Neighbors In Community, or P.I.C.N.I.C. They have managed to build their mission, raise funding and keep their vision from the ground up.

The content of each mural is based on a theme related to the location of the prospective mural. After forming a question around the space and its meaning within the community, volunteers from The Mural Project go around and interview people who are affected by the space. This process helps develop a vision for the proposed mural.

The bus and public transit system have been chosen as themes for the next mural.

The Mural Project has held interviews on the bus, at the bus depot and at bus stops, as well at other events. May’s priorities with the transportation project lie with the public and their input.

“We go to the people, hear what they have to say and use their answers to influence the design of the walls,” said May.

Mays was initially inspired by Judy Baca who helped create “The Great Wall of Los Angeles,” one of the longest continuous murals in the world.

“It’s amazing,” said May. “The history of that part of the world is represented along the mural, from the indigenous history that is still thriving today, to migrant worker justice, to the role of WWII on women’s roles in society, to the issues of today. The mural has it all while being rooted in the community.”

The Beehive Collective, an organization who does large prints on fabric about issues of social justice, colonization, corporate control and the resistance that exists in opposition to these things, also played a role in influencing the Greensboro Mural Project.

These two groups, and the history that surrounds Greensboro that is not always being taught in school, have inspired this project.

According to May, seeing the blank concrete canvases and knowing that their stories are not being expressed in the mainstream media, or cross-communally, stokes the determination to take back the “wall by wall” commons.

“We can control our stories, our surroundings, and murals are just one of the many tools to do that with.”

Categories: Features, Mary Windsor

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