How Public Murals Create More Empowered Communities
by: Melanie Rose
Over the years community public art has become a staple of the urban landscape. Today, many businesses and city governments have been inviting artists to paint their walls, hang their art, and create sculptures and installations reflecting the people and culture of the surrounding area. And we think it’s an awesome thing! So we’ve compiled a list of the benefits and why you should support more public art in your hood:
1. Beautifies Facades.
Public art adds beauty and visual interest to a neighborhood. Public art traditions such as murals have become widely respected art practices around the world. Imagine walking down your neighborhood seeing colorful masterpieces on the walls as you stroll down streets and alleyways, every corner providing you a vibrant backdrop for your afternoon stroll. Maybe some of your community organizers are depicted on the murals or some iconic figures in history. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it?
2. Raises Community Visibility.
Public art is usually commissioned for a specific community with a time, place, and a message in mind. The art then begins to mirror its environment bringing focus and increasing the visibility of its people and cultures. This is especially important for more vulnerable communities – it gives folks a chance to engage with art in everyday life and to see their stories reflected in their spaces. Visibility through public art acts as a neighborhood’s placemaking vehicle for connection, inspiration, and healing.
3. Improves Economic and Social Environment.
Yes, it’s true. Because community public art often echoes the experiences of the surrounding people and culture, murals often encourage a stronger sense of community and solidarity. Public art projects that particularly include community participation, whether it be input into the design or actually getting down and dirty in the painting, helps to root folks into the place where they live. And with that comes a more empowered sense of identity and pride for their place. Public art is also great for business! Neighborhoods with murals then become a destination point for visitors, revitalizing support for its local shops and restaurants.
Asian American Women Artists Association is trying to do something similar in San Francisco’s Richmond District this summer with its Mural Muses project, the first mural honoring Asian American women artists. Find more about the project here.