By Henry Haggart
As protests continued around the country over George Floyd dying while in police custody on a Minneapolis street, a portion of downtown Durham was transformed.
Vibrant murals now coat boards installed over storefront windows on and near West Main Street to protect businesses in case violence broke out here.
After a series of peaceful protests in Durham, community organizers from Art Ain’t Innocent, an arts advocacy group, and other volunteers linked business owners to local black artists. Since then, 23 artists have completed 24 murals in downtown storefronts.
Businesses and the Durham Artist Relief Fund compensated artists for the works, whose content creators controlled. The NorthStar Church of the Arts continues to collect donations to support Durham artists affected by the pandemic, especially “BIPOC artists, transgender & nonbinary artists, and disabled artists,” according to the relief fund’s website.
As some businesses prepare to reopen, these new works are not being discarded. Volunteers this week were moving murals from storefronts to a wall surrounding the 9th Street Bakery parking lot for a temporary installation.
While there is not yet a plan for longterm preservation of the protest-born artwork, community organizers and artists are working on a way to store the pieces.
At top: Jaguar Perry works on a piece title “Sambo in Wonderland” at 307 West Main St. All photos by Henry Haggart