I AM SPEAKING
Civil rights icon and leader John Lewis transcended his body and inspired the hearts, minds, and spirit of people all over the world. His sacrifices and leadership were integral to the progress we see in human rights and civil rights here in the United States. After securing a space on 49 State St. Rochester, NY, the artists were committed to projecting a part of history for the world to feel his presence once again. Below, the story of this project is told.
After his passing that 2020 year, we deliberated on a tribute to our late congressman. While seeking an image and place to project another powerful symbol of protest, we came upon the right conditions with the necessary support to paint John Lewis. We saw this as an opportunity to create a landmark that will project his call for Good and Necessary Trouble.
SECURING THE SPACE
After the last two projects, we looked to Ephraim Gebre’s hometown for our next installation. With guidance from local artist Sarah Rutherford, we reached out to property owners to secure a permanent home for this mural mural.
The Lewis mural sits across the street from where Corinthian Hall once stood. Among its rich stories, Corinthian Hall was where Frederick Douglass gave his famous speech “What to a Slave is the Fourth of July?” Along a main road in downtown Rochester, the John Lewis mural sits on a property that was once a part of the underground railroad.
PREPARING THE MURAL
A week before we even started painting, Sarah Rutherford and her partner David Sanchez coated the wall with primer so the mural would be as archival as possible. Behind the scenes, the entire team did outreach to fundraise for the project. Darius curated the image from an offering provided by Danny Lyon, reached out for landlord approvals, burned our “patterns” (the grid), and mixed the paint.
PROJECTING THE STORY
Two days before it was time to paint, Ephraim arrived to get a head start on the drawing. At double the size of our last mural, this was the most involved mural in the series to date. To complete this project, enlisted the help of a veteran in sign painting and an honorary member of the team, Dan Harrington. On November 11th, Dan Harrington and Jared Diaz drove from New York to Rochester with a van full of supplies we needed to get the job done.
We painted through rain, snow, sleet, and hail completing the mural on November 16th, 2020.
I AM LEWIS GALLERY
Enjoy all the images below that show the journey of creation. Feel free to share this page with others and tell the stories of John Lewis and heroes alike.