For These Black Artists, Public Art Can Be A Form Of Protest

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For These Black Artists, Public Art Can Be A Form Of Protest
The message of racial equality is common throughout the pieces of public art coming out in cities all over the country.
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Taking center stage at the memorial service for George Floyd, this mural by a group of Minnesota artists is one of the many pieces of art to come out of the movement for racial justice.

Ashley R. Smith: "I just love the statement that this mural makes, because it's forcing you to see him in a positive way. … I painted George Floyd as well, and I wanted to paint him in a way that was peaceful and that was not devastating."

Ashley R. Smith is an artist and founder of the online community Young Black Artists. This past month, Smith joined several painters, illustrators and designers around the world honoring George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, as well as the Black Lives Matter protests.

Smith: "I think that that is their way of protesting, and that's their way of expressing the world that they live in and how they experience it." 

Monique Dunson: "We just are proud to be a part of this experience, because it didn't feel like we could do anything to help."

Each letter of Cincinnati's Black Lives Matter mural is painted by a different local artist, and the paint will last for about five years. Community leaders say it serves as a reminder of the changes needed for racial equality. 

That message is common throughout the pieces of public art coming out in cities all over the country. 

Darda Brooks: "Putting up the art is just our way of showing the light within the darkness or within tough times."

Gentry Parker: "I choose to use every platform I can to make a difference."

To preserve the artwork online, the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota is crowdsourcing and mapping out the murals, graffiti and signs found in dedication to George Floyd and the anti-racist movement. More than 400 pieces of art have been documented so far.