In August of 2020, eight artists began to paint a street mural in Salt Lake City’s Washington Square Park, outside the Salt Lake City and County Building. This mural was announced as a contest for local artists to participate in painting. The Mayor, Erin Mendenhall, said, “We want to make it clear that Salt Lake City believes Black Lives Matter and is committed to real change in our community...” ( Mendenhall). This mural was sanctioned by the city.
Additionally, there were many other submissions that were accepted between 8th and the 15th of July. This public mural was the start of many other artists beginning to make street art in Utah. On the 16th of July, a committee selected and announced that there were going to be artists that filled in and outlined each individual letter of the mural, making it much more vibrant and effective. The mural features the words “Black Lives Matter” in bold yellow letters with a red heart at the end. These details were all added with the intent of making the mural better, so they were taken positively. The heart at the end is there to represent the love and unity that this movement created.
The mural itself is meant to serve as a visual reminder to the people living in Salt Lake City of the everlasting fight against racial inequality while also empowering the Black Lives Matter movement. Like other popular BLM sites, this one is no different. The Salt Lake City Public Safety Building, close to where the mural is painted, has become a popular spot for rallies and demonstrations as a sign of both praise and criticism from community members. Some residents view the mural as a symbol of progress and hope, while others see it as a divisive message that does not accurately represent the values of the city.
About a month after the mural was finished a group of individuals prepared a lawsuit against the mayor for “not allowing other groups to have the same right to express opposing political points.” This shows that while the majority of the reception to the artwork was positive, there were still individuals that had a negative reception to the work and made it clear.
Researched by Urban Art Mapping Team
News Coverage by Deseret News
Photographer: Spencer Heaps from Deseret News