Culture

Black Lives Matter protest art is immortalized in this virtual museum

The database has received more than 1,000 submissions.

@minneapolismurals/George Floyd & Anti-Racist Street Art database

As the George Floyd memorial in Minneapolis overflows with art, flowers, and letters, the University of St. Thomas found a way to preserve this everchanging space. The Urban Art Mapping George Floyd & Anti-Racist Street Art database, according to Hyperallergic, has captured the memorial’s various iterations as well as street art responding to Floyd’s murder from the city and beyond.

Street art, especially graffiti, has gradually gained more acceptance in the mainstream art world, but the threat of these works leaving the neighborhoods is high, with street art so often being covered or removed. This research project successfully catalogs artistic responses while still allowing them to continue to exist within their context.

The project — Since launching in June, the database has received more than 1,000 submissions. While most of the photos are centered on Minneapolis, there are several from across the country and Europe. Submissions are inclusive of styles, from ornate murals…

Together We Will Defeat Racism/Al Racismo Lo Vencemos JuntosKarla Ayala/George Floyd & Anti-Racist Street Art database

...to straightforward graffiti.

The project is also tracking the evolution of certain pieces. George Floyd’s growing memorial is the most prominent, but several of these works reflect the collaborative effort of the protests themselves.

“Walls speak,” Todd Lawrence, a professor at the University of St. Thomas, told Hyperallergic. “What’s on the walls is an expression of people’s feelings, people’s response to what’s happening at any given moment. Time affects how these messages get expressed.”

As museums rush to collect these pieces of history in real time, this free project provides a valuable, anthropological service. Even while avoiding photos of artists, children, and addresses, the database still manages to be an expansive resource for the world rather than closing these pieces off from those who can’t visit a specific cultural institution.