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April 8, 2021

Groundswell Wins Prestigious Abbey Mural Prize Alongside "Genius" Artists Rick Lowe and Carrie Mae Weems

Today the National Academy of Design (NAD) announced that Groundswell will be amongst the recipients of the 2020 Abbey Mural Prize. The list of grantees includes Carrie Mae Weems and Rick Lowe, both of whom were winners of the $625,000 MacArthur "Genius Grant" in 2013 and 2014 respectively. The National Academy of Design’s Abbey Mural program will support the award winners in the form of grants that range from $10,000 to $40,000 in a mission to make public space more open and accessible in local communities through the display of murals.


The National Academy of Design stated, “The awarded projects will result in over a dozen publicly viewable sites across America” and “bring together creators of diverse ages and backgrounds to produce civic works that generate lasting impact in the neighborhoods they serve.” It was this same push for arts education and impacting the community through public art that united the NAD and Groundswell for previous collaborations through our Summer Leadership Institute, where Master Artists from their ranks would join a team of our youth all-stars to create a mural.


Tuesday, April 13, 2021, at 5pm ET, via Zoom, NAD and Groundswell will join forces again to host the panel discussion, “Power & Purpose: The History of Community Murals.” The panel – moderated by Groundswell Executive Director, Robyne Walker Murphy – will explore the complicated and community-driven history of murals as an act of liberation. Robyne will be joined by guests Sophia Dawson, visual artist; Joe Matunis, artist, and director of Los Muralistas de El Puente; and Victor A. Saint-Hilaire, multidisciplinary artist for what is sure to be a treat for muralist and mural lovers everywhere. You can RSVP here.




Groundswell, Summer Leadership Institute Mural, East New York, Brooklyn, New York


The Summer Leadership Institute (SLI) brings together visions of positive change from our diverse stakeholders, from youth and neighborhood residents, to city agencies and wall owners, to social activists across the globe. As Groundswell's flagship summer jobs program, SLI employs youth as apprentice artists from July to August to create engaging, large-scale works of public art throughout New York City.


Mobilized by national conversations on youth leadership and social inequities, the youth artists bring key community issues to life through the mural-making process. For this project, a team of two Groundswell teaching artists and fifteen to twenty youth will engage with community organizations and city agencies to use public space as a canvas. Through research, design, and fabrication, their mural will give voice to their experiences as young people in New York City by making visible critical issues in order to inspire the next generation of leaders.


Rick Lowe, Black Wall Street Journey Murals, Chicago, Illinois


Black Wall Street Journey (BWSJ), based in Chicago, is a companion project of the Greenwood Art Project in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which grew organically from the 1921 Tulsa Massacre Centennial Commission’s invitation to artist Rick Lowe to help define an art project as part of the centennial in 2021.


BWSJ has two main focuses. The first is to provide information about Black wealth-building despite the many obstacles America put before Black people. The second focus is to be a catalyst for economic collaboration, mentorship, and awareness of Chicago’s Black businesses and entrepreneurs. Highlighting a combination of historically significant businesses and interesting informal or upstart businesses, the project's murals will be collaborations between local artists and businesses intended to honor the businesses as pillars of the local community.


NE Sculpture, Social Justice Billboard Project Murals, Minneapolis, Minnesota


The Social Justice Billboard Project elevates BIPOC voices and artwork in the Minneapolis, Minnesota community using three billboards facing the intersection of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, the site of George Floyd's murder and memorial. This project was initiated in response to the murder of George Floyd and inspired by Peyton Scott Russell's Icon of a Revolution mural placed at Mr. Floyd's memorial site in the days following his death.


Funds received from the 2020 Abbey Mural Prize enables the production of twelve projects by twelve artists on the site for one year. The works presented from April to June 2021 include: Jim Denomie's RIP George Floyd; Seitu Ken Jones's #blues4george; and Xavier Tavera's Non-Violent Resistance.


Social Studies 101 and Carrie Mae Weems NA, RESIST COVID TAKE 6! Public Awareness Campaign, Nationwide


African American, Latino, and Native American communities have been disproportionately impacted by the deadly virus, COVID-19. Through a public art campaign, this artist-driven project promotes preventive measures and dispelling harmful falsehoods about COVID-19, while also paying homage to front-line and essential workers who have placed themselves in harm’s way. Called RESIST COVID TAKE 6!, the “TAKE 6” in the title refers to the recommended six feet of separation in social distancing.


The project, conceived by Carrie Mae Weems and Pierre Loving, brings together a diverse group of artists to project their voices in a way that underscores what’s possible and brings the general public into a conversation of heightened awareness of this problem. The goal is to better the communities in which we live.