The Black Vote Mural Project Banneker-Douglass Museum

On Display: February 15 - December 21, 2020

About the Exhibition

The Black Vote Mural Project is an exhibition that expresses the fight for and importance of voting rights in the US. Through diverse styles, mediums, and methods of expression, featured artists examine the nation’s political and social climate, historic African-American milestones, perspectives on Black patriotism, and visions for the future.

Influenced by the Black Arts Movement of the 1960's and 70's, this exhibition promotes political voices, community rejuvenation, and cultural preservation. These regional artists take on a civic and social duty to address topics on health, education, equality, economic disparities, and identity; amplifying the genre of public art as activism.

The Black Vote Mural Project is a change agent that connects the past and the present. Change is a central focus of this exhibition. Since the passing of the 15th and 19th amendments, citizens continue to combat mass incarceration, housing discrimination, and acts of violence against Black and Brown bodies. Images from the Civil Rights and Women’s Suffrage Movements are historical narratives that inspire current and future change agents. In 2020, let us reaffirm the importance of participation in and interrogation of our elections and political systems.

Curated by Tomora Wright

Out of the Dark

By Ryan Allen

Out of the Dark is a black and white graffiti mural by Ryan Allen. Allen chose graffiti to parallel the way society views both Blackness and graffiti as counterculture. The subject of the mural is a young civil rights marcher with the word “Vote” painted on his forehead photographed by Bruce Davidson while marching in the 1965 Selma March. Allen connects to the subject as his creative future; and, the rugged, unpolished text below the subject represents how society views the artist. The full mural depicts the ways the artist challenges societal norms and the way the voting creates change.

"We use the right to vote to promote the change we want to see in our future and that is what I show in my work. The right to exist in multiple worlds at one time but still be able to feel as a whole person. the right to not be boxed in as a specific type of artist.” - Ryan Allen

Evolution of Efficacy

By Bowie State University's ART342: Installations & Public Art Class

Evolution of Efficacy features the first African American man to vote during Reconstruction: Thomas Mundy Peterson. In this project other important African American figures are featured: Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to the United States Congress and the first Black person to seek a presidential nomination from a major party; Mary McLeod Bethune, an educator, stateswoman, philanthropist, humanitarian, and civil rights activist who figured prominently in Women's Suffrage; and Frederick Douglass, a former slave, social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman.

Detail shot of Shirley Chisolm in Evolution of Efficacy by Bowie State University's ART432: Installations & Public Art Class

The Artists

Ariyanna Agnew, Taylor Burrow, Reese Harrison, Eric Izzard, Javon Marshall, Vinceaun Minto, Derreq “DJ” Player, Gina Marie Lewis (Associate Professor of Art)

The Ghosts that Watch Us

By Nikki Brooks

The Ghost that Watch Us is an installation that encapsulates the presence of Black women in the past, present, and future. Pairs of shoes are positioned to represent the struggle of Black women to be visible in a society that was not made for them. Each pair of shoes is connected with black yarn to represent persistence and presence in the causes of freedom, equality, human rights from the past to today.

About the Artist

Born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Fredericksburg, Virginia, Nikki Brooks is a professional artist and art teacher. She was educated at Virginia Commonwealth University, Lorenzo De Medici’ Italian International Institute in Florence, Italy and Maryland Institute College of Art and Design. She has been an art teacher since 2000. Nikki has taught in Virginia, Washington, D.C. and Maryland. She uses mixed media, collage, installation, and sound to produce artworks based on hope, tribulation, and social justice.

Sister's Cornern

Sister's Corner

By Nikki Brooks & Chanel Compton

This collaborative piece is a reflection and celebration of African American women history. The style of the mural resembles a quilt with images of historic African American women activists to conjure the strength of the past. The shapes in the border of the quilt, reference underground railroad quilt patterns, reminding the viewer that freedom is close and you are not alone. The woman in the center of the quilt-like painting is peering through the window-like frame, in a gaze of hope and deep thought. She is with other women facing outward and ready to step forward. In the United States, Black women have major voting power as seen in recent elections, carrying the Black vote in many states. Using the history of Black women activists as inspiration, let us all look forward and use our voice to create change and equity so that we can all be free.

About the Artists

Nikki Brooks

Born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Fredericksburg, Virginia, Nikki Brooks is a professional artist and art teacher. She was educated at Virginia Commonwealth University, Lorenzo De Medici’ Italian International Institute in Florence, Italy and Maryland Institute College of Art and Design. She has been an art teacher since 2000. Nikki has taught in Virginia, Washington, D.C. and Maryland. She uses mixed media, collage, installation, and sound to produce artworks based on hope, tribulation, and social justice.

Chanel Compton

Chanel Compton grew up in Bridgeport, CT and received her Bachelors of Fine Art from Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of Arts. She works as an artist and lives by a strong belief that art is a vehicle to connect people. She has exhibited throughout the region, as well as internationally. In Sao Paulo, for example, she exhibited at the Museo Afro Brasil. Currently, she lives and creates art in Baltimore, Maryland.

The Shoulders

By Greta Chapin McGill

The Shoulders by Greta Chapin-McGill

The Shoulders illustrates the ideals of ancestry, racial heritage, the importance of engagement in the political process, and the knowledge of the legal steps in place to secure that right. Images depict the 13th Amendment to the Constitution - the abolition of slavery and involuntary servitude, and the 15th Amendment - the right of all citizens to vote without regard to race color or previous condition of servitude. They come together to form Hiram Revels, the first African-American Senator, the 19th Amendment, Mary Church Terrell, Civil Rights and Women's Suffrage Activist, the Civil Rights act of 1964, and the Freedom Riders.

"...Freedom is not given, it is Won..." from The Shoulders

About The Artist

Chapin McGill studied painting and art history at Howard University and The Corcoran School of Fine Art. She spent time living in Florence, Italy, the birthplace of renaissance art. The museums and churches throughout Tuscany became pivotal influences along with color and “absorbed DNA” of artists of the diaspora, such as Jacob Lawrence, Lois Mailou Jones, and Romere Bearden. Most recently Chapin McGill visited and sketched in the studio of Paul Cezzane in Aix-en-Provence, France. Her international influences have produced an artist finding color, music and sensuality in everything.

Black to Forward

By Jay F. Coleman

Black to Forward by Jay F. Coleman
"The mural depicts our civic actions and reactions to societal conflict; ballot vs. bullet, marching, voting, Guerrilla warfare, love, peace, tenacity, legislation, and bloodshed - all recurring themes of American history. I hope to inspire true grit, through the advancements of technology we have at our disposal." - Jay Coleman

About the Artist

Jay Coleman is a Washington, D.C. based artist specializing in realistic and arbitrary color murals. As a sculptor, he works with bronze as well as repurposed materials.

3 Graces by Brandon Donahue

3 Graces

By Brandon Donahue

The title of this mural references a renaissance painting by Raphael with the same title. Donahue's 3 Graces appropriates a 1965 image of 3 civil rights demonstrators who massed in Washington, DC in silent support of the claim that the state's elections were illegal because Black people were still barred from the polls. The color scheme of the mural has three layers, a metaphor for the U.S. flag.

3 Graces by Brandon Donahue
"My overall message is about the 19th amendment and the reminder of the hard fight for equal voting rights." - Brandon Donahue

About the Artist

Two processes dominate Brandon Donahue's studio practice: airbrushing and repurposing artifacts. Airbrushing dates back to my earliest art-making. As a teen, Donahue picked it up as a way to enhance his skills. Through commissions, Brandon worked directly with customers and their ideas to bring them to life at t-shirt shops, homes, athletic events, and festivals. This way of working positioned him as a medium between someone’s idea and the final creation. Often, commissions memorialize or commemorate a loved one, positioning Brandon as a medium between the living and the deceased. These early bridges made Donahue realize that, as an artist, he could assert new meaning into the ordinary through customization.

Mary Church Terrell: Key Pioneer in the Intersectional Movements for Suffrage and Civil Rights

By Future History Now

The mural production is a collaborative effort between Future History Now teaching artists and young artists which focuses on skill-sharing through the application of a broad range of ideas, methods and materials. Mary Church Terrell was born in Memphis, Tennessee to Robert Reed Church and Louisa Ayers, both freed slaves of mixed racial ancestry. Robert Church, born to an enslaved black American-Indian seamstress from Virginia named Emmeline, is considered to be the first black millionaire of the South. According to accounts, Emmeline was the daughter of an enslaved “Malay” Malagasy princess and a white planter from Lynchburg. The Malagasy are an Austronesian and Southeast African ethnic group native to the island and country of Madagascar. The mural depicts a young Terrell on the left in front of the American flag and the U.S. Capitol, and an older Terrell on the right in front of a Maryland flag. Terrell spent the final days of her life in Annapolis Maryland, having built a home next to the Frederick Douglass house in Highland Beach. The background design depicts patterns in textiles common to the Madagascar region, referencing Terrell’s lineage. The protest images and the postage stamp reference the period in 1965 when efforts to register blacks to vote were intensified and Congress passed the Voting Rights Act.

Detail shot of a young Mary Church Terrell with the U.S. flag, the U.S. Capitol, and civil rights protestors in the background

The Future is Mine

by Nessar Jahanbin

Ryleigh, daughter of muralist Ryan Allen, is our future. Reclaiming her position in the world as a young Black girl, this mural urges us to recognize the power of our young Black minds. Using the possessive 'Mine' Ryleigh affirms her superiority, and models after Feminist activists who have fought for women's rights and systems of injustice. With spray can tops and American flag in hand, she evokes a patriotic intent to express her political voice through the arts. This mural helps us recognize the arts as a tool to communicate, uplift and inspire. We are reminded of our duty as adults to empower our children, provide them with the tools to exercise their voice, support their individuality, and invest in their future.

About the Artist

JAH-ONE is a DC based artist and muralist. He has been focused on using aerosol as his primary medium for the last 8 years. He has a fine arts background and grew up learning to paint using watercolor, acrylic, and oil. In college he focused on studying portraiture and sculpting. He is now working on large scale walls around the country and strives to go international with his work in the near future.

"With spray can tops and American flag in hand, she evokes a patriotic intent to express her political voice through the arts." - Nessar Jahanbin

What We Built (The African American)

By Oliver James

“This flag is a statement that the United States was built off the backs of Black people. During the 18th and 19th centuries, chattel slavery shifted the economic power from the United Kingdom to the U.S. It is still true in the modern day, as slavery is perpetuated in the U.S. justice system. Black people infuse over one trillion dollars back into the U.S. economy. African Americans everywhere should vote in order to have a voice and opinion on what they and their ancestors built." - Oliver James

About the Artist

Details of What We Built by Oliver James

Oliver “liv” James is a graphic artist, muralist and street artist who lives and works in the Washington, D.C. area. A native to D.C. a lot of her time was spent in the Denver metro area of Colorado. Her striking art pays homage to the oppressed communities around the world. Her work includes many powerful and often controversial images but not to be mistaken, the darkness that comes with such controversial topics does not stop her from using pops of color and beautiful and bright mixed media.

I Voted

By Jabari Jefferson

I Voted is an 8x8 mixed media mural dedicated to the growing demographics of Americans in the Black community that have lost faith in the voting process and have the desire to refrain from participating in electoral voting, but do not. The mural concept is meant to be a conversation piece, creating an open, safe, platform for all members of the community to honestly and vulnerably share their true opinions about the electoral voting process in regards to the Black diaspora in America asking “Where are the benefits?"

Details from Jabari Jefferson's I Voted

The work features a combination of materials such as acrylic paint, oil paint, and found objects. The aesthetic of the mural is inspired by the artist's ongoing The Library Series, which invokes the representation of gathered information and misinformation attained over time through personal development, research, experience, and information passed on by others. The artist's use of visual communication can be found in his choice of figurative body language, symbolism, and juxtaposition.

Details from Jabari Jefferson's I Voted
The mural concept is meant to be a conversation piece, creating an open, safe, platform for all members of the community to honestly and vulnerably share their true opinions about the electoral voting process in regards to the Black diaspora in America asking “Where are the benefits?" - Jabari Jefferson


By Gina Marie Lewis

"As an veteran and artist, this mural means a great deal to me. This mural celebrates the momentum that African American people must maintain in our effort to maximize the Black Vote toward our continued progress, and to secure continued equality within the social, economic and political landscape of the country. Hands reach upward - symbolizing the heights to which we have reached to achieve our goals - the fist of solidarity grasping both the U.S. flag and the flag of Black Liberation, and finally a hand reaching down into a ballot box casting a vote. The words and images intend to invoke the power of African American people as manifest through the act of voting, accompanied by words that demonstrate a mental attitude that encompasses our MOMENTUM."

"This mural celebrates the momentum that African American people must maintain in our effort to maximize the Black Vote toward our continued progress, and to secure continued equality within the social, economic and political landscape of the country." - Gina Marie Lewis

About the Artist

Gina was born in Columbus, GA in 1965. She is a mixed media artist with 20+ years of professional experience, holding a Master of Fine Arts degree from Howard University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts, with a focus on Cultural Studies and Studio Art, from Norwich University. She is currently an Associate Professor of Art, and the Studio Arts Coordinator, at Bowie State University in Bowie, MD teaching courses in Painting, Printmaking, Integrated Studios and Digital Media Arts. She has also been an independent curator for local cultural centers including, the Montpelier Cultural Arts Center in Laurel, MD, and the Millennium Arts Salon in Washington, DC.

MOMENTUM! by Gina Marie Lewis

Vote Like A BLK Woman

By Megan Lewis

Megan Lewis' 'Blk Women Period ' series showcases the activist, historical and cultural images of Blk Women. Megan emphasizes the patriotism and bravery of Blk women in history who have been a major part of influencing legislation and social change.

Details from Megan Lewis' Vote Like A Blk Woman

About the Artist

Megan Lewis is a professional illustrator. Utilizing various mediums, she aims to create works of art that focus upon stories that reflect a critical view of social, historical and cultural issues. Lewis is a freelance artist living in her hometown of Baltimore, Maryland, and has recently taken on the role as muralist. Her latest mural “Lady Liberty Please Know Thy Self” made national news with singer Alicia keys on A&E's Shining a Light: A Concert for Progress on Race in America. She was a 2014 – 2015 Urban Arts Leadership Member of the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance (UALP) and a fellow/education assistant at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum.

"Blk women are rarely validated for their hard work and society still treats Blk women as invisible." - Megan Lewis

For those who came before

By LaToya Peoples

The mural features a contemporary young woman juxtaposed against a collage of vignettes of forebears who fought for the right to vote. The central figure pays homage to the "Black Lives Matter" Movement, a modern day social justice movement. The background depict images from civil rights marches in the 1960's; most notably the Selma to Montgomery Civil Rights Marches. The marches were organized by nonviolent activists to demonstrate the desire of African-American citizens to exercise their constitutional right to vote, in defiance of segregationist repression; they were part of a broader voting rights movement underway in Selma and throughout the American South. Today, millions of Black Americans are repressed within the democratic process, yet data shows Black voters tipped the balance in the 2018 midterm elections. Moving forward in 2020, let us all seek to increase the power of our voices and votes.

About the Artist

LaToya Peoples is a Baltimore based, multidisciplinary artist and educator working in the realms of mixed media painting and public art. Her work focuses on figuration, color, and pattern, as a way of exploring identity, history, and transformative themes. She has served as an educator and coordinator for arts programming in Pennsylvania and Maryland. Peoples currently teaches visual arts at McDonogh School and at Jubilee Arts.

Detail shot from "For those who came before"

Strength of the Black Vote

By Ernest Shaw

Details from Ernest Shaw's Strength of the Black Vote
"This image exhibits, from an ethereal perspective, the cultural and historical power associated with the Black political influence on the political landscape of this nation. Even in small numbers, the Black Vote has an impact on elections." - Ernest Shaw

About the Artist

Artist Ernest Shaw, Jr. was born and has lived most of his life in Baltimore, Maryland. Mr. Shaw comes from a family of visual and performing artists. As a youngster growing up in West Baltimore, there was never an absence of influence or inspiration. Mr. Shaw appreciates the support and encouragement of his parents especially recognizing the fact that it is not easy to raise a child artist.

Mr. Shaw’s work defines the duality of the African American experience and . exhibits this dichotomy through an array of media and concepts. The most prevalent aspect of Ernest's the artist’s work is his use and understanding of color and the figure; his work is a continuation of a rich history of African and African American figurative art. His use of color demonstrates a deep level of understanding of rhythm taught to him by several West African drum instructors.

Let My People Vote

Let My People Vote

By the students of Steuart Hill Academic Academy

Our mural is a depiction of the importance of African Americans and the right to vote, and also as well as a celebration of the centennial of the women’s vote. In the piece, there are crowds of people protesting the capital and holding signs demanding the equal rights to vote. There are portraits of Martin Luther King Jr., because he was a spokesperson and leader in the Civil Rights Movement, Sojourner Truth because she was a women's rights activist during the Women's Suffrage Movement, and Barack Hussein Obama, because he represents “Change” by being the first African-American president of the United States. The various scenes in the mural show freedom, the right to demand equality, and the coming together of all genders and races of people to make it happen. Our mural is a celebration of the successes our predecessors accomplished through the hardships and sacrifices they made. We are all ONE.

Details from Let My People Vote

The Artists

Brandon Brandford, Autumn St. Thomas, Trio Washington, Jayden Edwards, Taylor Fields, and Kameryn Pigatt

About the Teaching Artist

Crystal Micriotti is influenced by texture, travel, feminine nostalgia, and rock and roll. As an interdisciplinary artist, Crystal uses painting, photography, installation, video, mixed media and glitter to create her art.

Our Vote Counts by James Stephen Terrell

Our Vote Counts

By James Stephen Terrell

"The message of the mural shows the viewers that African Americans and those of African descent coming together to vote. Black men and black women are a united front. United we stand hand in hand." - James Stephen Terrell

About the Artist

James studied art at Howard University and the Parson School of Art and Design, and has been teaching art for 12 years. James also holds a degree in Theology and Ministry. His parents are Rev. Dr. James E. Terrell, Pastor of historic Second Baptist Church of Washington D.C., and Retired Superior Court Associate Judge Mary A. Terrell of the Superior Court of Washington D.C. James believes that art is reflective of the reality that lies beneath the natural, physical appearance of human existence. Art is historical, political, psychological, musical and emotional. It is a form of a deeper understanding that exposes the truths of life, and is a visual language that is devoted to depicting the visual contemplation of the human experience.

"...hand in hand" detail shots from Our Vote Counts

The Family That Votes

By Zsudayka Nzinga Terrell

The mural depicts a Black family gathered outside of their home posing for a photo as they prepare to vote for the first time. They are in high-end, colorful fashion, which signifies their new rights, newfound freedom, and pride in culture and community. Their clothing is multi colored and heavily textured to denote pride and culture. The imagery toys with Black Dandyism and addresses the dance with respectability politics our culture often ensures.

The Family That Votes

About the Artist

Zsudayka studied journalism before pursuing a career creating art programs for nonprofits and charter schools. She has been teaching art for ten years. Her and her husband, James Stephen Terrell, curate youth shows and are working towards opening a Black gallery and auction house in DC. They currently host several art receptions in their studio and home.

Special Thanks

The Black Vote Mural Project exhibit and program series is made possible by the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture, Governor's Office of Community Initiatives, Banneker-Douglass Museum Foundation Inc., Friends of the Banneker-Douglass Museum, Anne Arundel County Historical Trust, Arts Council of Anne Arundel County, Extension Law, Four Rivers Heritage Area, Maryland Humanities, Maryland Heritage Areas Authority, Prince George's Arts & Humanities Council, Sonja Swygert Foundation, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., and Wells Fargo.