On Saturday, I was fortunate to see some of the installation of the new mural Living Time Line: Paul Robeson, at 1351 U St. NW. Work on the mural is scheduled to be finished today (Monday June 1), with a ribbon-cutting on June 27th.
Cory Stowers, Andy Katz, and Nessar Jahanbin all were kind enough to talk to me about the mural and the process of installation. Cory Stowers is the creator of the mural and received a grant from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Andy Katz is the designer, and Nessar Jahabin is one of the artists. Artists from Art B.L.O.C., a collective founded by Stowers, are carrying out the installation.
The mural has two giant images of Robeson, and in between there are scenes from Robeson’s life forming a time line. Andy Katz described these scenes, which are inscribed in circles, as “history pods.” Here, Nessar Jahanbin works on one of the pods:
The mural is huge, visible from U St. and extending far back. The design and details are awesome, but there is an additional unseen feature which Stowers has incorporated into the work. Each of the history pods will use an image recognition application to allow viewers to call up rich information about the scene and Robeson’s work. This is the first time that such technology has been used for a mural in the U.S.
Lead installer Eric B. is working on the main image of Robeson by U St.:
Work is almost complete on the pods:
The rich colors and details are amazing – see here how carefully the details from a musical score are rendered:
The artistry and meaning of this mural, augmented by its massive scale, are enough to make it one of the very best outdoor art installations in D.C. But combined with the new technology embedding rich content, it is even more exciting.
The mural is on the side of the Hung Tao Choy Mei Leadership Institute. President Abdur-Rahim Muhammad of the Institute has previously supported the legacy of Robeson by sponsoring the Paul Robeson: Here I Stand awards given annually at the Lincoln Theater. Ken Rubotzky tells us that “The Paul Robeson mural concept stems from the Hung Tao Choy Mei’s Leadership Institute’s efforts to introduce Paul Robeson to the present generation and re-introduce him to previous generations through the annual Paul Robeson “Here I Stand” galas held annually at the Lincoln Theatre on U Street since 2005.”
For more about the creator and artists, check out:
Creator Cory Stowers: @uptown_morrissey
Art B.L.O.C.: @artblocdc
Designer Andy Katz: @ajkatzart, katzart.com
Lead installer Eric B.: @versatilevice
Artist Nessar Jahanbin: @You_Are_JAH, @YouAreJAH, YouAreJAH.com
Hashtags to use: #PaulRobeson, #LivingTimeLine, #ArtBlocDC, #DCCAH
One of the baskets of colors used in the project.