In Detroit along Woodward Avenue downtown, or on Livernois south of Six Mile, or down Joy Road, brightly colored murals with “Your Vote Matters” messages emblazoned on the sides of buildings command a striking and bold presence.
As a part of efforts to promote conversations around voters’ rights the ACLU of Michigan in partnership with MichiganVoting.org, a coalition of statewide organizations, partnered with 1xRUN, a Detroit-based gallery and arts publisher, to produce a series of murals in communities with historically low voter turnout.
Desire Vincent-Levy, a communications consultant for the ACLU of Michigan, oversees the “Your Vote Matters” community art series. She says that when she was hired to provide creative direction and a strategy for using the arts to educate voters, public art was one of the first strategies that came to mind.
“Art as a medium has the opportunity to connect and move hearts and minds in a way that facts and figures may never,” she says. “Murals provide an opportunity for engagement since they live street level. They also don’t require an intentional viewer like viewing art in a gallery or a museum. The accessibility felt important to truly communicate widely and to meet people where they are instead requiring them to come to the work.
“Public art, murals in this case, also have the opportunity to live in the community beyond this immediate election. It was an opportunity to hire local artists, which felt especially important as COVID rapidly changed the landscape of work for many and events and projects were canceled. Beyond COVID, local artists are members of our community and have their own experiences and investment in the community so lifting up their voices felt important and authentic.”
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