Arts & Entertainment Editor
Limited inspiration is not part of the Greensboro Mural Project’s vocabulary, instead, their essence is found in community inspiration.
The Greensboro Mural Project is a volunteer-based group that advocates for justice, democracy and community through public art. These three focal points set their murals apart from others that take home on the walls of Greensboro.
To uphold this mission, the local group interviews people and gets to know the hidden stories from underrepresented communities in the city. The projects are funded through the group’s own grassroots fundraising efforts and their partnering groups. Designs are developed by paid freelancers, while most of the painting is solely completed by volunteers.
“Once people have a role in creating our murals they get to see it in a public space when it’s finished,” said Alyzza, a member of the Greensboro Mural Project. “[The people] are part of changing the city.”
The group not only wants to share lived experiences with each other, but they also want the community to take ownership in the murals they either physically paint or inspire through the stories they tell. The Greensboro Mural Project said they want to highlight experiences for the larger community to see in an artistic format.
The group has worked on several murals around Greensboro and have a few in the works.
One of their favorites was completed in February of this year, featuring important women and femmes.
The Greensboro Mural Project organized an open mic at People’s Perk, allowing everyone in the audience to nominate women and femmes that deserved a spotlight for their “Wonderful Women and Fabulous Femmes” mural. When the votes were counted, a total of 43 nominations were made. The results were a happy surprise for the Greensboro Mural Project.
“How often do you go to an event where women and femmes get raised up and celebrated like that?,” Alyzza asked. “We narrowed the pool to 12 and a public vote took place and resulted in 4 top vote-getters, who all happen to be black women and femmes living and working in the south, fighting for justice.”
The winners included the activists Bree Newsome, Miss Major, Micky Bee and Greensboro native, Jesse Barber. To this mural, just go to People’s Perk on 551 S. Mendenhall St.
Another favorite is the group’s first mural located on the retaining wall at the Children’s Museum on Lindsey Street. In preparing for this mural, members of the group interviewed 300 people by asking a single question: “What would make Greensboro a healthy city?”
“As you can imagine we got well over 300 responses,” Alyzza said. “The very act of asking residents a question puts the power of the creation and influence in their hands.”
Alyzza and two other members of the project, John Hunter and Vera Weinfield, believed the artwork “set a precedence for community engagement.”
However, the Greensboro Mural Project is very excited for their upcoming public artwork.
The mural entitled, “Tough Love Letters,” is currently being painted across from the bus depot. The group collected the inspiration for this mural by asking residents to write “love letters to Greensboro.”
“It turns out there’s quite a tough love for the city,” Alyzza said. “So, we have chosen to represent that as a way to help transform Greensboro.”
As of now, over 200 people have volunteered to paint the mural. “Tough Love Letters” is expected to be completed by the end of December, which is when the Greensboro Mural Project will host a party in celebration.
Yet, that is not it. The group is partnering with Greensboro’s Arm-Wrestling League to host an arm-wrestling brawl fundraiser on Oct. 21 at Geeksboro from 8-11 p.m. for another upcoming mural entitled “Queer Ancestors Mural.”
The community inspiration for this upcoming public piece will be found through interviews with people who have queer ancestors. A podcast will also be created to help in sharing these underrepresented histories.
With these two projects already in motion, a third project is also in the design stage. This mural is planned to feature histories of the civil rights movement and the underground railroad while intertwining pieces of modern social justice efforts.
The Greensboro Mural Project has acquired much success, and the group’s community appreciation is outward.
“We are so grateful for the opportunity to create with so many people,” Alyzza said.
However, the group is always looking for more volunteers, “especially if you are not afraid of heights,” Alyzza said.
The group’s current work schedule for their piece “Tough Love Letters” is every Monday – Friday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
To make your mark on Greensboro through public art and inspiration go to the group’s website at http://www.greensboromuralproject.com.