Posts Tagged ‘mural artist’

Black Rock Star Superhero

During today’s lunchtime bike ride, as I was riding in the 16th Street Heights neighborhood in northwest D.C., I saw a mural on the side of a building at the corner of 14th and Randolph Streets (MAP).  So I rode over to get a closer look.  The eclectic nature of the things in the mural indicated to me that there might be a good story behind it.  So later I researched the mural.  And I was right about there being a story behind it.  The mural has undergone several distinct phases to become what I saw today.

The mural was originally entitled Washington Pizza, and was located on the side of the Washington Pizza restaurant.  It was created by Alicia Cosnahan, also know professionally as Decoy, a local artist who creates a lot of local graffiti and murals.  In its original incarnation it showed a family eating, what looks like a couple of colorized local rowhouses, and an another person eating something.  It was topped off by a scrawled and odd-looking no parking warning.

For the 2014 release of “Mayor of D.C. Hip Hop” Head-Roc‘s album of the same name (which, by the way, contained a song entitled “Mayor for Life” in tribute to former four-term D.C. mayor, Marion Barry), local muralist Pahel Brunis modified the mural, which was then retitled “Black Rock Star Super Hero.” Some graffiti text reading Head Roc covered the family, and a likeness of Head-Roc, covered up the cool pizza-eating person.  Thankfully, he also covered up the scrawled “Washington Pizza parking only!”

Later that same year, on the morning of November 23, “Mayor-for-Life” Marion Barry died.  That same afternoon, Head-Roc, along with other local rappers, performed an impromptu musical tribute to Barry at the vacant lot in front of the mural.  As the music played Pahel Brunis returned and once again modified the mural, this time with a tribute to Barry.  It wasn’t planned.  He just grabbed what supplies he had at home and showed up.  Three hours later he had painted a large portrait of Barry on top of the rowhouses.  And that’s how the mural looks today, at least for now.

A Survivor's Journey

A Survivor’s Journey

This bike ride took me to the Brookland neighborhood in northeast D.C., where I happened upon a Domestic Violence Awareness Project mural, entitled “A Survivor’s Journey.”  The public artwork is located near The Catholic University of America, on the side of The Brookland Café building at 3740 12th Street (MAP), which donated the wall as a canvas for the artwork.

Local award-winning mural artist Joel Bergner, who partnered with the District Alliance for Safe Housing (DASH), an organization that provides refuge and services to victims of domestic abuse, created the large and colorful mural in 2010.  The project was financed through fundraisers, and in part by a campaign on Kickstarter, an online fundraising site for all things creative.

Designed based on interviews the artist conducted with victims of domestic violence and staff members at DASH, the mural is intended to use their stories as inspiration for its message about overcoming past trauma and looking toward a better future.  The dedication for the mural reads, “Inspired by true stories of domestic violence, this mural depicts a woman and child’s journey from a painful past to a brighter tomorrow with a myriad of support along the way.”

A Survivor’s Journey generally depicts darkness transitioning into light as it progresses from the left to the right of the piece, with the sun shown in top right corner of the piece.  The details of the mural show a collage of images.  Among them, an older couple positioned down the road from a home, a woman holding a clipboard, and a group of woman who appear to represent a variety of races and ethnic backgrounds.  Another image shows a scene which includes a figure of a controlling man with his hands on his hips standing in a doorway behind a woman, who is painted using only black and blue, possibly representing the bruises and injuries she has sustained as a result of physical abuse. The woman is covering her ears while a child, presumably her son, is looking up at her and tries to console her.

The largest image, which is the central focus of the mural, illustrates the same abused woman after overcoming her violent situation and reclaiming her life. This time, however, she is depicted with bright green eyes and a warm, colorful complexion. Symbolically on her clothes is the image of people tearing down a brick wall. Her son is again with her, but this time smiling and seemingly content. According to the artist, “They now look toward a brighter future with the support of family, friends, and a case worker and are joined by women of many backgrounds, showing that this issue is universal across race, ethnicity and nationality.”

SurvivorsJourney02a[Click on the photos to view the full-size versions]