Submitted by: Mel Skandamis
While the world was dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, amidst shutdowns and calls for masking and social distancing, in the United States the Black Lives Matter movement and protests brought new attention to the issue of inequality. Mel Skandamis, one of twelve muralists chosen to participate in the Historic Fourth Avenue Coalition’s mural project; co-sponsored by Chasse Building Team, chose to create their mural to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Below, Mel kindly shared more about their process for creating this piece and how the pandemic has affected their life.
“COVID has changed how I interact with the arts community. I can’t go to galleries or museums as much anymore. I’ve been submitting some things to online galleries and publications but I also turned inward a bit, started posting less on IG and doing art more privately.
I based the mural on an old drawing I’d done of a colorful mouth. I decided to add the words “Defund” and “Divest” after learning about ways to lessen the violence that police departments constantly inflict on Black and Brown communities.
I had the mesh panel stretched across the wall of my bedroom for about three weeks untouched. It’s the biggest thing I’ve done and I was nervous. A friend, Juliana, helped to motivate me. After I penciled in the design, we got together to start laying in color.
I hope to support Black Lives Matter’s call to abolish the police. Instead of using tax dollars to intimidate, murder, and incarcerate BIPOC folx, we can invest that money into schools, food security, and housing for marginalized communities. I regret not painting the words bolder because I think they’re a little hard to read.
The main way the pandemic has affected me is that I now work from home. I really miss taking the bus and riding my bike to work.”