The Black Love Mural Festival descended on Civic Center Park with a beautiful burst of energy, purpose and inspiration in the aftermath of the George Floyd protests.
Co-curated by Rob Gray of Rob The Art Museum and Annie Phillips of IRL_Art, Black artists from Denver and across the country offered their skills to create stunning murals around statues, lamp posts and flag poles in historic Civic Center.
We at the nonprofit Civic Center Conservancy have been thrilled to see this powerful transformation in the beloved urban oasis we work to activate, enhance and restore every single day. Not only did this project elevate Civic Center Park to provide one of its true purposes - to give people a place to have their voices heard - but it also protected the structures within the historic park while at the same time bringing to life the incredible talent of these Black artists. Not to mention it brought a much-needed breath of positive life back into the park, and seeing people come there to experience it has brought us so much joy.
If you've seen the art, you know there is a lot being communicated through it. So, we decided to tell the stories of these artists, the humans behind this monumental movement, and create something that could live on forever even after the murals are removed.
"Behind The Art: The Black Love Mural Festival," features a handful of artists who we talked to in the park about their work - the inspiration, the experience, the impact. We also spoke with organizers Rob and Annie. That video will be posted tomorrow, as they prepare for the evening's closing ceremonies and celebration of the history-making project.
One of the artists, though, wasn't able to make it down to the park for the video shoot. So she recently spoke with Amanda Johnson, our Communications & Marketing Manager, about what she wants the world to know about the power of art and empathy.
"5 Questions With Moe Gram..."
What was the inspiration behind your piece?
It's based off of an empathy campaign that I've been working on for the past two years called "Every Human," which seeks to discover what we all need as humans. What I learned in this process is that in order to have true empathy, you also have to have empathy for yourself; then you can truly empathize with people you interact with, and even those you don't know.
Why did you use the particular shapes, colors that you did?
I try to use colors and shapes that are fun and inviting in juxtaposition with messages or ideas that are maybe difficult to grapple with. So people might feel comfort from the piece, but then when they take time to think about the words...they can do that without a feeling of inhibition...and it's then we can have real conversations that are more long-lasting.
How was the experience of creating the art in Civic Center Park?
Intimidating and kind of scary...you're in between these two huge government institutions, that don't necessarily feel like they always serve us in the way they claim...that lit a fire in me that I wasn't anticipating. But to be painting during what our country was experiencing...it was a great sense of pride, it was sad, it was painful. But joy came once I realized the emotion of how beautiful it was to see these paintings elevating Black voices in that type of venue.
What do you want people to take away from your creation?
I want people to keep the phrase "Empathize With You & Them" close to them and think about what the true meaning of empathy really is. To know that other people's experiences, even if you will never understand them, are real.
If you had to describe your piece in one word...?
(Moe lifts her hands in the air and looks up to the sky, smiles and says with conviction)