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Salem's Punto Urban Art Museum Will Fund 20 New Murals, All Inspired By Nina Simone

Sean Yoro's mural "KAUPOKU," located in an alley off Peabody St. in Salem. (Courtesy Punto Urban Art Museum)
Sean Yoro's mural "KAUPOKU," located in an alley off Peabody St. in Salem. (Courtesy Punto Urban Art Museum)

Calling all artists — The Punto Urban Art Museum is looking for Massachusetts-based proposals for murals that will be created in Salem.

Twenty artists will be selected as part of the museum's annual mural project. The open-air museum is dedicated to social justice art programming, and this year, they're requesting submissions inspired by Nina Simone’s song “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free.” The artists can base their murals on interpretations of the song, homages to the song creators or they can create personal depictions of what it means to be free, says David Valecillos, director of design for the Punto Urban Art Museum. The song was performed by Simone and written by Billy Taylor and Dick Dallas.

“Given the times that we're living in, we felt like we needed to take a step further and align the call for art with the mission that we have in the museum and try to provoke a conversation about what the country and the communities of colors are going through right now,” Valecillos says.

The museum is accepting proposals through Sept. 13 and selected artists will each receive a $1,000 stipend to create their murals, which should cover supplies and anything else needed to complete the project.

A 2019 mural by the artist Ledania covers a building in Salem. (Courtesy Punto Urban Art Museum)
A 2019 mural by the artist Ledania covers a building in Salem. (Courtesy Punto Urban Art Museum)

Applicants must be at least 18 years old to apply and Latinx, Black, immigrant and indigenous artists are especially encouraged to apply, according to the museum's website. Artists located on the North Shore, Salem and surrounding areas are also encouraged to apply.

Punto Urban Art Museum has over 75 murals, including some created by New England-based artists as well as artists from around the world. The mission of the museum is to break down the socioeconomic barriers between Salem’s Latinx neighborhoods and people living downtown, using art as a device to bridge the communities, Valecillos says.

The project will be located along Peabody Street in Salem, making it easy for people to see the entire exhibition in a short walk, Valecillos adds.

For more information on the project and application, visit the Punto Urban Art Museum's website.

Artist Cenz One's mural in Salem. (Courtesy Punto Urban Art Museum)
Artist Cenz One's mural in Salem. (Courtesy Punto Urban Art Museum)

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Christian Burno Arts Fellow
Christian Burno is the arts reporting fellow for The ARTery, WBUR’s arts and culture team.

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