Elizabeth City asking artists to pitch ideas for ‘Black Lives Matter’ street art project

Andrew Brown Jr.

ELIZABETH CITY, Va. (WAVY) — Elizabeth City is asking artists to submit their renderings for a “Black Lives Matter” street art project.

City Council voted 5-1 on May 24 to move forward with the street art project idea, which was brought forward by Councilman Darius Horton.

At the time, Horton said he hoped the project, which would paint the words “Black Lives Matter” on the length of Colonial Avenue outside City Hall in downtown Elizabeth City, would send a message to the community that “yes all lives matter, but right now black lives matter.”

The project’s kick-off will be announced by City Manager Montre Freeman Wednesday at City Hall.

“What I’m looking to see and what I’m hoping to receive is just a lot of energy and passion for such an impactful project,” said Freeman. “Ultimately I would love for the community to rally around this bold statement of just fairness, that is what it comes down to. We want everyone to feel valued in this space.”

The street art is similar in concept to other murals that have been painted in cities across the country.

The vote to create the mural came just a few weeks after Andrew Brown Jr. was shot and killed by Pasquotank County deputies as they attempted to serve a search warrant at a Perry Street home.

Freeman says he hopes this project injects love into a city that has lost the winds in its sails.

“Take an opportunity to hear it from both sides and engage people,” Freeman said. “The reality is, we’re only stronger together and we don’t necessarily have to agree on everything, we just have to respect and value people and I’m hoping that that is the message that comes out of this and I’m hoping that folks who look like me feel valued and feel included.”

“We are excited to invite local artists to submit artwork to support the importance of diversity in our great nation,” said Freeman in a prepared statement in a news release Tuesday.

“Our city serves as a safe harbor of hospitality as well as healing. This project will support our combined efforts and commitment to accomplish both,” Mayor Bettie J. Parker added.

Artists must upload their rendition of the Black Lives Matter street art project by midnight June 9. Work can be submitted on the city website.

Elizabeth City residents will then be able to review each artist’s submission and vote for their favorite rendering. The voting period will be from 6 a.m. June 10 to 6 a.m. June 16.

All artwork will be submitted pro bono, meaning artists won’t be paid for their submissions. Artists will still have ownership of their art, however, by participating, they are providing the city with their consent to use the artwork on T-shirts, cups, and other items as part of this project.

The artist who received the most votes will have their artwork illustrated on Colonial Avenue.

The selected artist will be able to help create the final project.

The winning rendering and the six runner-ups will be announced by the mayor on June 17.

Painting by volunteers — including the top six artists and the winning artist — will begin on Saturday, June 19 — Juneteenth — after a memorial waterfront walk and prayer breakfast. Both events are open to the public.

It will be unveiled to the public on July 3 with a community picnic, music, fireworks and vendors.

City leaders are looking for businesses and people to be project sponsors. Visit the city website to learn more.

Stay tuned for information on how to submit a rendering for consideration. Renderings will need to be uploaded to the Elizabeth City website.

Note: The timeline for submitting artwork for the street project has been changed since this article was originally published.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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