116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — In June 2020, after weeks of protests in Iowa City and across the nation in response to the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the Iowa City Council passed a resolution with 17 items aimed at addressing racial inequity in the city.
One of the items was to “increase opportunities for artistic expression for people of color.”
Iowa City has a substantial public art program, with the public artwork in the city valued at over $1 million.
The Public Art Committee, which oversees the city’s program, had developed a new strategic plan in 2019. It focused on bringing more opportunities for public art to neighborhoods throughout the city, rather than concentrating art in downtown areas.
What’s happened since
One project developed in response to the 2020 resolution is the Oracles of Iowa City mural, which will appear on the side of the Capitol Street Parking Garage. The project, being developed through the Center for Afrofuturist studies at Public Space One, aims to serve as a call to action against systemic racism.
The mural currently is open for feedback on the Public Space One website.
Marcia Bollinger, neighborhood services director for Iowa City, said this project is the most visible response to the resolution calling for more artistic opportunities for people of color. It is funded through a joint initiative between Iowa City and the University of Iowa.
She said installation of the mural will start by the end of this month or early next month.
“The goal ultimately is to have (it) completed by August, particularly for that time period when students are coming back,” Bollinger said.
Though she said she doesn’t have hard numbers on the share of public art projects in the city awarded to artists of color, Bollinger estimated around 25 percent of the projects completed in recent years have been commissioned to minority artists.
The city’s Public Art Committee already was working to make art more inclusive as part of the strategic plan developed in 2019, Bollinger added.
She said one of the main initiatives of the plan was to include more voices from across the community in the feedback process when planning new projects.
“Part of that strategic plan points to developing strategies to reach out more to any minority population that we don’t hear from on a regular basis,” she said.
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