Deliver Black Dreams’ Latest Mural Says to “Write It, Paint It, Do It”
Deliver Black Dreams’ latest mural will be a call to action.
Located on the Wilson Road railroad bridge on the West Side, the mural is intended to engage young people with an inspiring quote.
Collaborators Shelbi Harris and Marcus Billingsley were a part of the effort behind the first Deliver Black Dreams mural on Fifth Avenue last year. They found out earlier this year they’d be working together on this latest mural.
Harris said she had already been admiring Billingsley’s work around Columbus, and after getting to know him she knew they would click. Then they found out they have the same birthday.
They both have a passion for kids and wanted to create something symbolically with them in mind.
It was important to both to have a call to action with the mural. What Harris and Billingsley came up with features a storybook-like design with the phrases “Write It,” “Paint It” and “Do It,” inspired by a quote by painter and writer Faith Ringgold, who said, “You can’t sit around and wait for somebody to say who you are. You need to write it and paint it and do it.”
“I think that’s really important, giving those people something to do, an action,” said Billingsley.
During their meeting with the city’s Arts Commission, board members were mildly concerned the call would spur too much action, but their design was nevertheless approved.
Harris said that when it comes to murals and vandalism, these beautification efforts can shut down some of those issues. She said that it’s a testimony to murals and their impact.
“I always think about how beautification shuts down some of those vandalism issues,” she said. “You cross those bridges when you get there, but as long as your intentionality is there and everything is right then I never fear vandalism.”
Billingsley said the more he works with artists around Columbus, the more he’s realized many are on the same page with the message or vision they’re trying to get across. It was the same with Harris.
Both see themselves collaborating in the future. Billingsley said coming from Cleveland and getting to know the Columbus arts community, collaboration is necessary and inevitable.
“I think collaboration is the name of the game right now,” said Billingsley. “All my projects this year have been collaborative projects.”
The mural is a part of the visual component of the Deliver Black Dreams initiative. Launched in 2020 by Marshall Shorts, the initiative is supported by the Greater Columbus Arts Council and Maroon Arts Group, in addition to the City of Columbus.
But Harris emphasizes that Deliver Black Dreams is not just an arts initiative.
“I think the murals serve as just the visual point for people to know that we’re still in that motion of trying to Deliver Black Dreams constantly,” said Harris. “We don’t want to do so many murals that they think Deliver Black Dreams is a mural project. We’re not just beautifying walls here. There’s a mission at what we’re doing.”
For more information, visit deliverblackdreamscbus.com.
All photos by Taijuan Moorman