Slide 1: Stay Golden © 2020 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Gerald A. Brown, Roberto Lugo, Isaac Scott, 33rd & Diamond Streets. Slide 2: Black Lives Matter Street Mural, Minneapolis, Minnesota. 2020, Sean Phillips, Timi Bliss, Beverly Tipton Hammond, Kelly Brown, Peyton Scott Russell, Brittany Moore, Donna Ray, A. Drew Hammond, Christopheraaron Deanes, Melodee Strong, Christopher E. Harrison, Reggie LeFlore, DeSean Hollie, Broderick Poole, Lissa Karpeh, and Kenneth Caldwell, Plymouth Avenue North between Penn Ave N and N Oliver Ave, Photographed by Georga Fort. Slide 3: Black Lives Matter Protest Girl, 2021, Lexi Bella @lexibellaart, Fourth Avenue and Sackett Street, Brooklyn, NY, Photographed by Kurt Boone @kurtboonephotography
We are an interdisciplinary research team based at the University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Urban Art Mapping seeks to document and analyze street art responding to moments of friction and crisis. At this time, topics we explore include systemic racism, the Covid-19 pandemic, environmental challenges, and gentrification. Our goal is to arrive at a nuanced understanding of the relationship between street art and place, considering how art shapes and is shaped by unique neighborhoods.
What We Do
What We Do
Street Art Interview Series
We believe that storytelling in the form of interviews can strengthen our understanding of art as healing and protest. In our Street Art Interview Series, we have sought the perspectives of over 30 artists and activists working in the US and globally. These interviews are for educational use only.
Melodee Strong Interview Clip
Kenda Zellner-Smith Interview Clip
Cey Adams Interview Clip
Maiya Hartman Interview Clip
WHAT WE DO
Urban art mapping is an interdisciplinary research team supported by the Research in Action initiative at the College of Arts and Sciences, University of St. Thomas and Arts Midwest. Our collective backgrounds in folklore and cultural studies, geography, and art history shape the core methodology of our project. Through our research we seek to track responses to moments of crisis at locations associated with crisis, assessing text and images in the streets from a qualitative and a quantitative perspective.
Street art is ephemeral and fleeting, and it can reveal immediate responses to world events in a manner that can be raw, direct, and revealing. These visual expressions can help make externally visible what people think, believe, or feel both individually and in groups. Artists, activists, and community members help shape the archive through their documentary work and ongoing engagement with the project.
A study of street art is relevant to many disciplines in the humanities and the social sciences, including art history, cultural studies, geography, sociology, and urban planning. Our faculty directors engage students in an analysis of street art in our own classrooms, and we present our research to academic audiences and the broader community through conference presentations, lectures, and workshops. Educators around the world also use the databases in their teaching and research.
IMAGES FROM THE ARCHIVES
Hover over each photo to learn more about each piece's background.
Barney Judge, 2022
"Black Lives Matter" is painted in yellow on the pavement.
The mural was organized by Trische Duckworth, Executive Director of the community organization Survivors Speak, along with Trevor Stone, the community builder at Nonprofit Enterprise at Work. Supplies were donated by Ace Hardware.
This piece was created the weekend of September 26th and 27th 2020 at a community art event and food drive organized by Victoria Theater @vtac_mn (Instagram), Creatives after Curfew @creativesaftercurfew (Instagram), City Mischief Murals @citymischief (Instagram)
A blue sky background with white clouds. Two hands are holding a red heart that reads: "No More Stolen Sisters #MMIW" (missing and murdered indigenous women). Yellow sunflowers and red bloody handprints decorate the murals. The bloody handprints or red handprints are a symbol for missing and murdered indigenous women. There is a medicine wheel in the lower left corner. "Information and Resources csvanw.org, nativewomenswilderness.org" is written on the bottom left corner.
The first website is The Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women
The second website is a website devoted to COVID-19 relief for the Navajo Nation
Painted on plywood on the north side of the Lake Street Clinic, this piece is one of three in close proximity that seem to be in conversation. All three pieces have text that references hearing or seeing protesters and the effect of their actions. The bottom written text may have been written first in black and white the top text, “Rise Like Lions” was added later and exclamation points were added to the bottom text. This board also has a tag from Gho$t Man. It's unclear whether this writer is the creator of this piece.
Graffiti in black spray paint reading "My Cries Are For Humanity," next to a stencil reading "We want peace/We want love/We want justice/We want equality."
Documented in George Floyd Square.
Seitu Jones, 2020
Noted Twin Cities artist Seitu Jones created this stencil of George Floyd’s face and made it available online to anyone who wanted to use it. As a result, this stencil has been used in many locations across the city, across the country, and around the world. This specific instance was done by Seitu himself, who, in an interview with our team, explained that he bombed up and down University Avenue in the days after the uprising in St. Paul. As the attached paper sign suggests, this piece was painted on plywood covering a window on a commercial building that was open for business at the time it was documented.
The Black Lives Matter Memorial fence was a temporary chainlink fence installed in the area north of Lafayette Park and the White House from June 2, 2020, until January 30, 2021. The fence prevented public access to the area, and it also served as an important site of protest and self-expression. Activist Nadine Seiler played a crucial role in protecting and caring for the fence, along with Karen Irwin and other activists in a loosely-formed group informally known as the "Guardians of the Fence."
Some of the signs in this photo read "Know Justice Know Peace" and "Trump Must Go."
Graffiti written in black block letters on a stone façade reading "Nahël | Ni Oubli | Ni Pardon | ACAB" (Nahël | Neither Forget | Nor Forgive | ACAB
Nahël M., a 17-year-old of Algerian descent, was shot and killed by police during a traffic stop on June 27, 2023, in Nanterre, a suburb of Paris.
The Velvet Bandit, 2020
The Velvet Bandit emerged as a street artist in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and is very active in Northern California This small paste up reading ‘My Virus, My Choice’ takes a dig at the politicized responses to Covid-19 and resistance to government mandates, especially in the USA, where restrictions that are put in place based on scientific evidence and in the service of the public good are often challenged on political grounds. Follow @thevelvetbandit on Instagram, and check out thevelvetbandit.com
This piece, composed of a stencil on the left and freehand writing on the right has become important to our team as it captures both an essential motif of the street art associated with the George Floyd Uprising and it makes a statement for why the art accompanying the movement is so important. Art on walls and boards and streets is a way to own and reiterate the narrative so that it doesn’t get forgotten or coopted. This piece was documented by one of our most important documenters, Sally Pemberton, who sent us images of hundreds of pieces of street art from the Twin Cities.
Featured Story Map:
The Philadelphia Mural Scene: Student Researcher Reflections
Urban Art Mapping
In July of 2023, undergraduate students and faculty members from Urban Art Mapping traveled to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as part of our National Endowment of the Arts grant to research Black Lives Matter Street Murals in eight US cities. Urban Art Mapping spent five days interviewing street artists, interacting with the city's prominent mural organization, Mural Arts Philadelphia, and exploring the vibrant mural scene.
Scroll to learn more about this story map.