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  • Frank Romo

Murals in Detroit: What it is and Why it Matters

Whether you live in Detroit or just passing through, one thing you won’t miss when you’re here are the plethora of murals that are scattered throughout the city. Murals in Detroit was created to amplify the ongoing conversation about street art, which many consider to be the living history of Detroit. It was also created to start a conversation about the Detroit artists and residents who live among it.

The project started years ago as an idea to document and showcase street art around Detroit to bring recognition to the art and the artist. In 2018, Murals in Detroit worked with RomoGIS to develop an interactive web platform that captures and celebrates Detroit’s expansive outdoor gallery of murals and street art.

About the Platform

The platform uses geospatial technologies and crowdsourced data to geographically locate and establish a living archive of public art and murals within the City of Detroit. Over the past few decades, many beautiful pieces of art have been forgotten about, uncovered, or neglected. Often times the artist is unknown because the documentation of the work has been lost, or we simply can't determine who the artist is. Murals in Detroit's mission was created to change this and bring recognition to these artists and their work.

The web platform created by RomoGIS uses a myriad of tools, including web scraping technologies, geographic mapping software, and social media interactions to create an interactive experience for anyone with a smart phone. Our team uses the integration of social media, specifically Instagram and Facebook, to inspire residents to seek murals, contribute images, and build a community repository that reinforces muralists's presence in Detroit.

Our use of mapping technologies along with traditional data collection tactics helps create an innovative community platform that manifests in an archival, commemorative, and interactive website that allows users to locate current street art, and document work that hasn't yet been digitally archived.

Why Here, Why Now?

2018 survey showed that 70% of Americans believe that public art improves the image and identity of their community. In addition to adding cultural and aesthetic value to communities, many urban theorists suggest that art and artists play a pivotal role in the life cycles of cities and in the regeneration or "re-gentrification" of once abandoned areas as evidenced by places like Five Pointz in Long Island City, New York.

As Detroit transitions into a new era of urban development it is imperative that the contributions of the artists are celebrated and not forgotten as the landscape drastically changes. So many beautiful murals are lost every day due to demolition, new construction or a change of ownership.

Our goal was to create a platform that celebrates public art, properly credits the talented and prolific artists and encourages residents, visitors and tourists to explore the great outdoor canvas that is the City of Detroit.

Join in the Fun: #MuralsInDetroit

Murals in Detroit was created so that you can take a moment to discover and enjoy the beautiful works of art in Detroit. You can see all of the Murals and their locations by visiting the Murals in Detroit website where each Mural is displayed on an interactive map with a corresponding photo. If you find a mural or create a new work, you can add it to our Murals in Detroit map by using the hashtag #MuralsinDetroit.

Follow us as we continue to expand our application at @muralsindetroit on Instagram.

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