Dialogues on Race - a nationwide public art and design initiative - aims to advance racial justice through media, dialogue, and practice by producing an initiative that informs, teaches, and builds relationships, strengthening the multi-racial and multi-ethnic fabric of our communities.
The project has been designed to empower teams, made up of two creative partners to create compelling and thought provoking public murals, billboards, banners, and posters that address themes connected to race and social justice. We define social justice as when all people are recognized as sharing a common humanity and therefore have the right to equitable treatment in a social environment where there is a fair allocation of community resources.
The process of dialogue is not just talking, it is about helping people to engage and communicate with one another about issues that can be challenging to address. In light of recent racially-charged events throughout the United States, Dialogies on Race will leverage artists, designers, and activists to create visuals for creative conversation.
The initiatve so far:
Dallas - MAP launched Dialogues on Race in Dallas, Texas in the fall of 2014. The project featued both community murals and billboards.
Four two-person teams - made up of artists from different racial and/or ethnic backgrounds - designed the billboards. Each artist was invited to particape in the project because of his or her ability to communicate ideas in a bold, graphic style, as well as having an expressed interest in exploring a challenging social theme. The artists were thoughtfully paired, often working in different mediums and with a mix of individuals from different generations. The objective of each pairing was to create fertile ground for frank conversations and a dynamic creative exchange. The teams: Rebecca Carter paired with Darryl Ratcliff; Thania Dominguez McElroy paired with Jin-Ya Huang; Gerardo M Robles paired with Christopher Blay, all designed printed billboards; and Morehshin Allahyari paired with MAP Director, Janeil Engelstad designed an electronic billboard.
In South Dallas, students from Billy Earl Dade Middle School created a mural - located inside of the school near a main entrance - around the themes of equity and unity. Overall the project was designed to bring African American and Hispanic students together to work on a mural about unity, cultural heritage, and pride. Titled, United We Stand, Divided We Fall, the mural honors the legacy of civil rights leaders Cezar Chavez, Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman, and Dolores Huerta, and looks to the future with hope and promise. Working with muralist Ashley Durham, the participants created a lasting legacy that will teach and inspire Dade students today and into the future. In partnership with Pueblo Sin Fronteras and the North Texas Dream Team, MAP produced a mural in the Oak Cliff neighborhood made by students from Jose Garcia Middle School. The mural will explores the journey of immigrants from Central American and Mexico to the United States and the idea of the American Dream.
The Dialogues on Race community conversation was held in the round in January 2015. The participants included the billboard artists and Roberto Corona, Community Outreach Coordinator, Embrey Human Rights Program, Southern Methodist University; Alia Salem, Executive Director, DFW chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations; Suzy Miller, Executive Director of Donate Life Texas; and Alpha Thomas, South Dallas Community Organizer and teacher of the MAP mural program at Billy Earl Dade Middle School. Nearly 50 community members, including people from the arts and academia, government administrators, activists, and other professionals, attended the event.
New York: In partnership with Design Ignites Change, MAP launched Dialogues on Race in New York City in the spring of 2015.
Students from New York High School of Art and Design worked with mentors and graphic design professionals, through the AIGA mentoring program. Over a two month period, the teams created posters that examined race and social justice. The posters will be exhibited in New York in the fall of 2015.
Also, in the fall of 2015, new projects will start in a number of US cities. For this new iteration of the project, two-member teams will consist of a voice from the community; this could be an expert in social justice or an activist, it could be a high-school student who was bullied by a local gang, a police officer, or member of the clergy. These individuals will be paired with a local artist or designer to collaborate on a powerful visual statement about race in America. An additional component will be the facilitation of high-school and college student mentoring collaborations with creative professionals.
The artwork is not a means to an end, but rather just the beginning, and will serve as a platform on which to build localized, community specific events, programing and educational outreach activities to ignite a public dialog around the issues being addressed.