I wanted to explain the inspiration for this piece. It all started when I visited the Art & Drama Therapy Institute on a whim about 15 years ago. This unique center for healing offers culturally rich art, music and drama therapy programs arts for adult DC residents with developmental and intellectual disabilities. They’re located near the mural site, back in the warehouses behind Rhode Island ave station. I’ve never seen anything like this really. I was struck in particular by their use of traditional Japanese Noh theatre as a core therapy. Witnessing firsthand patients being transported from a world of considerable challenge and limitation into a completely new existence, assuming mythological characters of their choosing and donning the most exquisite costumes, was an amazing experience.
This is a great parallel for the average DC resident who either rides the Red Line metro frequently, or rides or walks along the new Metro Branch Trail. Maybe they’ve never had the opportunity to actually leave the District. Maybe they’ve never even visited any of the Smithsonian’s many museums or festivals. Who might they daydream of becoming? What other worlds might exist where they can explore being a warrior, ancient royalty, or a magical winged being? Shouldn’t DC’s public art strive to provide an opportunity for a momentary escape?
This mural concept is meant to inspire fantasy, daydreams, and expose thousands of daily viewers to an ancient culture from halfway around the globe.
Because the mural site runs along this great new bike trail, I couldn’t resist adding a cast of characters on bikes. Bold shapes and patterns provide a sense of sweeping movement and energy. Large scale shapes and patterns provide a quick, bold impression for metro riders, and the finer details provide lots to explore for those riding a bike or walking past on the trail at close range. The trail is also a major north/south connector, cutting through a long stretch of the city from DC’s northeast quadrant straight into the newly revitalized NoMa/Union Station/Capitol areas.
More on the center’s two founders: http://www.adtinet.com/visionaries.html
More on the Redline Mural Project: http://www.wblinc.org/crossroad/