Preserving Plywood Protest Art

Minneapolis and Saint Paul after George Floyd

  • Heather Shirey College of Arts and Sciences at the University of St. Thomas, Saint Paul, Minnesota
  • Summer Erickson Urban Art Mapping Research Group, University of St. Thomas, Minnesota
  • Chioma Uwagwu
Keywords: Anti-racist Street Art, Social Justice, Non-Profit Organizations, Collecting, Physical preservation

Abstract

Since 25 May 2020, George Floyd's death at the hands of the Minneapolis police has sparked civil uprisings throughout Minnesota. In the context of this intense crisis, street art transforms urban space and fosters a sustained political dialogue, reaching a wide audience and making change possible, as seen in art throughout the Twin Cities and eventually the world. For example, the mural depicting George Floyd painted by local artists on the sidewall of Cup Foods at 38th St and Chicago in Minneapolis initially transformed a location that was a tragic marker of an extrajudicial anti-Black murder into an important community space for memorialization, organizing, fellowship, and healing, but it also became a site of conflict and negotiation. Graffiti was spray-painted onto plywood-covered store windows, which business owners put up in fear of riots. Images of anger and hope covered those boards. Our research discusses what will happen to art such as this, who wants to preserve it and why, how it could be used in the future, and what that means for anti-racism efforts in the Twin Cities.

Published
2020-12-30