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Five Must-See Murals in Durham, North Carolina

Featured image: Durham SmART Program crosswalk by Candy Carver 

Larger than life, bursting with color and accessible to everyone. We love murals… especially the gems found right here in Bull City. These colorful additions to our city put a smile on our face every time we see them. They tell the stories of our community for all to see and experience. Ready to explore? Hit the the streets of downtown Durham and have some fun — follow our Fuchsia Penguin guide down below then see what else you stumble upon on your own!

1. The Art of the Warli in Durham by Ramya S. Kapadia & Sampada Agarwal 

Find this mural at 313 Foster Street.

Let your eyes wander. Using the style of Warli an indigenous art form from Western India that uses minimalistic forms and vibrant patterns to reflect everyday lives and events – artists Ramya S. Kapadia & Sampada Agarwal’s depictions capture the dynamic nature of Durham’s landscapes as told by its people – from our rural tobacco-growing past, to our vibrant urban present.

Artist handles: @ramyakapadia, @ansimit.sampada

2. Pauli Murray in the World (2008-2009) by Brett Cook and community members

Find this mural at 313 Foster Street.

Meet one of our town heroes. Between 2007 and 2009, 14 murals were completed in downtown Durham as part of a collaborative public art project called Face Up: Telling Stories of Community Life. Spotlighted in this mural is Pauli Murray, a Bull City local who championed the fight for gender equality and assisted in desegregating schools. This mural was organized by the Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) at Duke University, which worked closely with the Southwest Central Quality of Life Project (QOL), an organization that represents six neighborhoods of southwest central Durham and is dedicated to improving the lives of its residents. 

Artist handles: @brettcookstudio, #paulimurray

3. Snapping! Crackling! and Popping! by Mary Carter Taub

Find this mural on the American Tobacco Campus at the intersection of Blackwell St. and Vivian St., connecting the Durham Armory to the Durham Marriott City Center on Foster Street, and at Durham Central Park crossing on Foster Street. 

Walk across the most colorful crosswalks! Inspired by the Rice Krispies cereal characters Snap, Crackle and Pop, Mary Carter Taub brings color to crosswalks on the American Tobacco Campus. “The pedestrian crosswalks are a freewheeling riff loosely inspired by Memphis design, a blend of Art Deco and Pop art, blending geometric shapes found in downtown Durham’s local Art Deco architecture with an ’80s palette bursting with color,” said Taub in a statement released by the Durham SmART Vision Plan. 

Artist handle: @marycartertaub

4. Durham Convention Center Garage Door Murals, inspired by Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, by Cornelio Campos and Cecelia Lueza 

Find these murals at the Convention Center on W. Chapel Hill Street.

Celebrate our community’s Mexican heritage with works by Latinx-identifying artists. Durham-based Mexican-American artist Cornelio Campos was inspired by Diego Rivera for his painting, while Cecilia Lueza, a prolific American-Argentine artist and sculptor from Charlotte, NC was inspired by Frida Kahlo in hers. These murals were made possible through a collaboration between the City of Durham’s Cultural and Public Art Program and the North Carolina Museum of Art.

Artist handle: @corneliovcampos

5. Candy Carver’s painting of lyrics from James Weldon Johnson’s Lift Every Voice and Sing

Find this mural at the Unscripted Durham parking garage.

Find the lyrics of James Weldon Johnson’s “Life Every Voice and Sing,” written in white, set against a black background in Candy Carver’s mural at the Unscripted Hotel. Originally a poem, it was set to music in 1900 and adopted by the NAACP in 1919. It is known in Black communities as “The Black National Anthem.” 

Artist handles: @candycarver, #candypaints

To learn more about murals in Durham, visit www.muraldurham.com.

Sources for this blog include: @bestofthebull, @muraldurham, @indyweek, @downtowndurham

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