At left, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty cuts the ribbon with artists and community leaders on the city's largest mural, entitled "From Edgewood to the Edge of the World." Photo: Stephen Miller/Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.
Graffiti has long been a fact of life in the District of Columbia, and the rail corridor that runs through the Edgewood and Eckington neighborhoods in the city's Northeast quadrant is home to plenty of illegal tagging and art. Instead of whitewashing walls only to have them be marked again weeks later, the District government has begun to connect youth with artists who help them hone their skills as part of the city's Summer Youth Employment Program.
One result of this effort is what is now the city's largest mural, covering a wall over 1,000 feet long adjacent to the Rhode Island Avenue Red Line station and the Metropolitan Branch Trail. A 1.5-mile long section of the trail is currently under construction next to the mural, and will soon connect Northeast neighborhoods to Union Station and downtown.
The arts group behind the mural is Albus Cavus, which was hired by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities to work with Summer Youth Employment Program participants on the mural, located beside a shopping center. Through our work on encouraging community engagement around the planned trail, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy helped connect the commission and the artists with the shopping center's manager.
The mural was painted over the summer at a rapid pace, with artists from across the nation moving to the Edgewood neighborhood for the summer to participate. Neighborhood residents appreciate the new art, as well. "The artwork is just amazing," Wayne Sumpter told the Washington Post. "It definitely gets your attention. It wakes you up. When I come through here I'm not thinking about a lot, but the wall stopped me. It pulls you to it."
UPDATE: A short documentary about the mural was shown on Current TV. Watch it here:
This is great! It would definitely be interesting to see a follow-up article on the project one year later (August 2010.)
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