Bellevue College hosted a virtual unveiling on Feb. 22 at 3:30 p.m. where the artist, Teddy “Stat” Phillips, talked about his work. The Mural, titled “Unity”, was created through a partnership between BC’s Addressing Anti-Blackness Taskforce and the local non-profit, Urban Artworks.
Urban Artworks mission is to, “Engage youth and communities in the creation of public arts that inspires connections and honors their voices.” They work with community organizations and business owners, to facilitate interactive community engagement around research, design, and installation of murals and public art in specific communities. Since 1995, they have “collaborated with thousands of young people and hundreds of artists to bring art to public spaces throughout Seattle. Our programs foster a renewed sense of connection, creativity, and self-esteem with those we work with”.
Although most of the team’s work has been in public places, during the Covid-19 pandemic they have been able to do a lot of their artwork online. Phillips elaborated, “We have historically hosted youth programs in person, and when the pandemic came around we were able to kind of pivot and figure out some ways to do remote programming and hybrid programming… and in Burien, we did a program where all the young people from one apartment complex were able to meet with each other…”.
Their project with Bellevue College had three workshops. In workshop one, Urban Artworks, Bellevue College’s Anti-Blackness Taskforce (AABT) and Stat met to discuss the message that they wished to portray through the mural. In the second workshop, Urban Artworks and Stat met with the AABT twice for feedback on two mural drafts. The AABT also shared the final design with students of Bellevue College’s Umoja Scholars Program for their feedback as well. Once the AABT had approved of the design, Urban Artworks installed the mural on campus using the wheat-paste method.
“We really touched on some more famous artists that use the wheat-paste medium. We are based on campus to preserve the architecture on the brick in which it’s own and a gem. We decided to print this one in three long sheets. So each sheet was 4×16 feet”, Teddy said. He also continued to explain why this project was so important. “This project is really unique, for us it’s a very values-aligned project for the organization. Anti-racism, expression, integrity are all very important parts of the organization and the lenses that we look through”, he explained. “We had an opportunity to see antiracism and talk about proactive work.”
The piece of work itself is on-campus and shows two Black graduates with half their capes on, to show off some symbolism towards Black lives. “Gowns not being fully on but you know they’re gonna be on at the end of the song, or so there’s a lot, a lot of symbolism in this”, Teddy stated to conclude the meeting, leaving the audience on his message about racism and African-American lives through both his speech and work.