Carver Museum, Six Square launch call for East Austin public art project


Austin’s George Washington Carver Museum, the Six Square organization and the city’s of Austin Equity Office are teaming up for public art project that will place large yard signs with text-based artwork throughout Austin’s African American Cultural Heritage District.

The “High Signs & Beacons” projects seeks 8 to 12 creative teams of African descent. Teams should consist of one visual artist and one writer/poet/scholar. Each will create a text-based design for a 4-foot-by-8-foot sign. Selected artist pairs will receive $1000, or $500 each.

The state-designated African American Cultural Heritage District Historic in East Austin is comprised of six square miles originally created in 1928 as the “Negro District” by the Austin City Council in a master plan designed to enforce segregation by forcing resettlement of the African American population into a designated district to the east of the city’s center. Among other measures, the city refused to run utilities to homes and businesses in the established Black communities elsewhere in Austin. Segregated schools and parks were also designated in the “Negro District,” and Black-owned businesses were forced to move. By the mid-1930s, approximately 80 percent of the Austin’s Black population was compelled to relocate to the eastside.

The complete entry guidelines for “High Signs & Beacons” can be downloaded here: High Signs & Beacons Artist Call

Submission deadline is June 22.

Below is the project background statement:


How can creatives help expand our identities as Black people?

What myths have been adopted that no longer serve us?

How do we weave narratives from history, myth, and literature that will cultivate abundant futures?

And how has this moment laid bare all that is broken?

More than ever, people need help grounding in this moment and visualizing a collective future. This is an invitation to engage with the isolation, uncertainty, and essential chaos of these times.

What we know is that communities of color are disproportionately impacted by the current pandemic, and African Americans are some of the least likely to recover once they have contracted COVID-19. While this is real, how do we (un)speak this onto ourselves? How do we speak health and wealth onto all people when we are blessed and plagued by the pre-existing condition(s) of Blackness? We are in the midst of a system reset, and we need your help to prepare for and imagine this future.

Selection Process Overview
This project will select 8-12 creative teams consisting of one visual artist and one writer/poet/scholar to co-develop one large scale outdoor sign. These signs will be made of materials typically used for political campaigns and placed in people’s front yards. The final works will then be installed and displayed throughout the African American Cultural Heritage District.

The signs will be 4ft x 8ft (or larger) with 33% – 50% of the visual real-estate dedicated to text in the form of a proverb, haiku, or short phrase that literally or subjectively responds to the following questions and prompts:

Define the term essential.

My present is____________.

My future is ____________ .

What myth and/or folklore will become reality?

Who benefits?

What will it mean for us to live in the aftermath of this global pandemic?

What does it mean to re-evaluate our relationship to living and living amongst other people?

Art heals, instructs, riots, and activates________________.

Old world or new?

Jeanne Claire van Ryzin
Jeanne Claire van Ryzin
An award-winning arts journalist, Jeanne Claire van Ryzin is the founder and editor-in-chief of Sightlines.

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