Emory Douglas: What We Want, What We Believe

  • Emory Douglas presents an artist talk to the mural team.Emory Douglas presents an artist talk to the mural team.
  • Emory Douglas presents an artist talk to the mural team.Emory Douglas presents an artist talk to the mural team.
  • Emory Douglas working with mural team in a design brainstorming session.Emory Douglas working with mural team in a design brainstorming session.
  • Emory Douglas working with mural team in a design brainstorming session.Emory Douglas working with mural team in a design brainstorming session.
  • Mural team in a brainstorming session.Mural team in a brainstorming session.
  • Emory Douglas working with mural team member in the brainstorming session.Emory Douglas working with mural team member in the brainstorming session.

In preparation for the mural project, G:Class students attended workshops at the New Museum and the Studio Museum in Harlem to engage in dialogue around the social and political history that gave rise to the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and the larger Black Power movement. Students then canvassed the neighborhood in which the mural was to be made, interviewing residents and people working in the area, discussing issues the community felt most relevant. Topics that surfaced included gangs, gentrification, unity, health care, education, and employment. Students chose to focus on education, health care, and unity. Working with Emory Douglas and the mural artists Chris Beck and Clare Herron, students brainstormed on topics embraced by the community, keeping in mind the neighborhood’s diversity. Working with researched ideas and concerns, students, Douglas, and the mural artists chose to “remix” Douglas’s past and present images with imagery of their own invention.

In the short amount of time that students have been working on the wall preparing it for paint, residents and workers in the area have shown encouragement and support, stopping by to chat, asking questions about the mural project, and commenting on their great work. A neighborhood store, H & E Deli, Incorporated, doors from the scaffolding, generously provided free sandwiches, and snacks to students at work.

The public mural What We Want, What We Believe is presented in association with Groundswell Community Mural Project, the New Museum, and The Studio Museum in Harlem, with support provided, in part, by the Rolin Foundation.

Emory Douglas: What We Want, What We Believe

In conjunction with the exhibition "Emory Douglas: What We Want, What We Believe" and part of G:Class' mission of allowing students to interact with contemporary artists, the G:Class mural team participated in an art-making workshop with Emory Douglas, brainstorming in design sessions, and attending an artist talk by Douglas. The students made connections to the social and political issues that lead up to the work, while also learning critical thinking, art-making, and collaboration skills.