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Grassroots efforts popping up to preserve art in response to George Floyd's death

The plywood art might give the impression that the pieces are temporary, but people are working to change that.

MINNEAPOLIS — Right now around Minneapolis, there's no shortage of things that give an artist the butterflies. Businesses have been boarded up after a tumultuous week following the death of George Floyd creating an eerie feeling on normally bustling streets like Lyndale. However, it's those very boards that excite an artist. They're blank canvasses.

The boards came up in the midst of a painful time. However, local artist Brittany Spears said she found them to be inspiring.

"This is what inspired me to do mine because it's beautiful," Spears said. Spears hasn't drawn her piece on plywood, but said she felt compelled to do a digital piece portraying civil rights activists, police and other powerful imagery. "It's showing you that there's more out there than what we believe and what we think. This just sparked something inside of individuals that are doing this art - they're motivated."

As the world yearns for decorum, trying to find balance between mourning and hoping, Spears said art and expression is one way to transition. She said at least it is, for her.

"Basically, he's holding up a weight and I wanted to express the oppression," Spears said, pointing to a silhouette of a man in her artwork. "The weight of everything that the Black community has been experiencing throughout the years, trying to have a level head but also from generation to generation experiencing that pain. I have the police there, the police is sitting on the weight to show oppression, how it's being weighed down."

Her piece is one of hundreds, popping up, depicting what it means to be present during this time of metamorphosis. And right now several organizers are working to find the board murals permanent homes. 

Spears and other artists said their pieces aren't intended for any specific destination.

"Art throughout the years was always a way for people to voice their opinion without actually speaking but showing visually, expressing what is on the inside, which is very important," Spears said.

"This art specifically isn't meant to last forever but the message is," Muralist Liv Novotny said. "We'll never forget this time."

However, if the art could remain in the hearts and minds of future generations--that education would be the strength that unites us all.

"They've been waiting for an opportunity like this to express themselves and to get this out here," Spears said. "Especially when it comes to racial equity in our community, that's a good way to see these things. I hope that the community grabs onto it and we make this change all around."

If you are interested in the art preservation efforts, or if you own a storefront that bears a board with a mural that could be preserved, you can email boardstomuralsmn@gmail.com.  You can also find more information on this Facebook page

If you are interested in looking at more art from Brittany Spears, you can do so here and here.

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