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'A voice for the black community': Artists finish new mural in downtown Greensboro

'A voice for the black community': Artists finish new mural in downtown Greensboro


GREENSBORO — The new mural outside downtown’s Elsewhere museum and artist residency displays more than its creators’ artistic talent.

It tells a story.

A group of 11 artists, most of them black, created the expansive mural with acrylic exterior house paint on plywood that covers the storefront at 606 S. Elm St.

They came at the invitation of Elsewhere Executive Director Matthew Giddings, who provided paint and made sure artists got paid.

Artists named it “Inspire Change for a Collaborative Future.”

And they did it in less than four days this week.

“I’m really overwhelmed with the final product,” artist Darlene McClinton, who led the effort, said Friday as she watched passersby pose for photos.

It joins murals on plywood up and down Elm Street, created when protests began locally and nationwide over police brutality of black people and the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd. He died at the hands of police officers there on Memorial Day.

“What I would love for this mural to do is to be a voice for the black community,” McClinton said.

This expansive mural depicts the life of a black woman, from childhood to adulthood.

Against a yellow background, a young girl reaches up to grab a seed that becomes a white flower, symbolizing innocence and purity.

“She doesn’t know about racism,” McClinton said. “She doesn’t realize that the color of her skin will later be an issue.”

The next image portrays her as a middle-school student with a red flower, starting to see police brutality and negative images of black people in the media and news.

She becomes a young adult, with her fist raised, a symbol of awakening consciousness.

The last image shows her as an adult, looking back at her life.

A large, colorful carved butterfly stands in the center, with smaller butterflies throughout the work.

“Butterflies represent change and transformation,” McClinton said.

Flower petals have been created from foam spray, adding to the mural’s 3-D look.

Artists wanted the mural to be interactive, so that passersby would stop to pose for photos in front of it as they did Friday.

The mural is a project of The Artist Bloc, hosted by Elsewhere. 

McClinton said she doesn’t know how long the mural will remain in front of Elsewhere.

She hopes it stays in the city, perhaps at UNCG’s Weatherspoon Art Museum.

“I am hoping this mural can educate and inspire people, which it does,” McClinton said. “Even if we’re going through a tough time right now, with black people being killed because of the color of their skin, even if it comes from a source of pain, we still have pride. We are still resilient people.”

Contact Dawn DeCwikiel-Kane at 336-373-5204 and follow @dawndkaneNR on Twitter.

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