Seven local artists installed twelve temporary murals across Montgomery County in ‘hard to count’ communities urging citizens to vote in the 2020 elections. Commissioned by the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County (AHCMC) through its Montgomery County Public Arts Trust program as part of the Let’s Promote the Vote Murals Project, a non-partisan public art initiative featuring county-based artists: Greg Mort, Paige Friedman, Arlette Jassel, Dinah Myers Schroeder, Davide Prete, Brian Williams, and Julianna Weidemann. Each mural features an original design but all of them contain only one word, VOTE!
The murals focus on galvanizing all Montgomery County citizens into action; encouraging them to make their voices heard by exercising their right to VOTE. Each Promote the Vote mural broadcasts this mantra in its own unique way. Artist Dinah Schroeder uses bold, bright colors in her piece installed at the Silver Spring Civic Building and the intersection of Montgomery Village Ave. and Frederick Rd. because, “color is inviting and I want to invite everyone to be represented in the vote.” Internationally renowned contemporary artist and county local, Greg Mort took inspiration from the American flag for his piece mounted at the entrance to the Wheaton Metro. “I want to do my part as an artist and American citizen to use the power of imagery to encourage people to get out and vote” states Greg. “I believe the visual image transcends every language and connects to all cultures.”
Four Montgomery County regional areas: East County, Mid-County, Silver Spring, and Up-county feature between 2 and 3 murals each. Some artists turned to representation and language to fully reach residents living in these ‘hard to count’ communities. Brian Williams‘ piece is painted on a Georgia avenue wall in Downtown Silver Spring and installed on the Willow Manor sign near the East County Regional Center. The image depicts a black woman characterizing prosperity, triumph, and strength to overcome obstacles in order to make a statement about current events and encourage all people, particularly the African American community, to vote and make change. Five languages: Spanish, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, English, and Amharic appear in Arlette Jassel’s mural located at Westfield Wheaton Mall, the White Oak Transit Center, and on the corner of Frederick Rd. and Stringtown Rd. in Clarksburg. The word VOTE is written in each of these dialects to reflect the incredible diversity of the county and inspire everyone into action. And artist Davide Prete offers his directive to VOTE in English and sign language.
Public art is known to have a profoundly positive impact in society. Just days after the murals were installed, residents began giving feedback. “The response from East County residents to the Promote the Vote mural has been very positive” says Jewru Bandeh, Regional Director of the Montgomery County Eastern Region. “It is motivating and encouraging many in some of the hard to engage neighborhoods to go exercise their civic duty – to go vote.”
“Our country is so divided right now and we need art to heal” says Dinah. Public art provides opportunities for social cohesion, representation, and community building. “It engages all viewers in a shared conversation to embrace a mutual cause such as doing our civic duty and voting” Greg states. “The Arts and Humanities Council is thrilled with the incredible work our local artists have done” says Eleanor Choi, Chair of the Public Arts Trust, a program of AHCMC. “We received a number of fantastic submissions that truly represent the diversity of the county and as November 3, 2020 draws near, our hope is that these temporary murals will achieve the desired result and spark an increase in the county’s voter turnout this election season.”
The murals will remain in the community through the November 3rd elections. More information on each of the artists, 12 murals, and their exact locations can be found on AHCMC’s website, creativemoco.com.
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