September 29, 2021 by Jazmine
This time last year, I was working on an edit for the North Monroe Business District. At the height of the pandemic, people were looking for opportunities to share passions, art, hope, inspiration – and honestly just looking for something to do. One idea that hatched in our neck of the woods was Art on Monroe. Artists were matched with local business owners to create murals on five of the historic buildings in the neighborhood. The hope was that the artistic contributions would draw more visitors to the area, give back to the creative community, and create beautiful outdoor art that anyone could come and see safely. One of the artists, Jiemei Lin, was paired with the Paramount Building. Hearing Mei speak about the message of hope in her mural and then seeing the finished product, of course, I began following her on social media.
In February of 2021, Mei went live on Instagram with a plea to the City of Pullman. She had submitted a design for an “End Racism Now” mural call put out by the city. She had put the words “Black Lives Matter” in her design… and won. The city then decided to have a revote, apparently due to confusion in the voting process. However, many within the community believed it was Mei’s additional words that were the real problem.
The people of Pullman rallied and decided to fund Mei’s mural independently. After a successful Gofundme campaign, the mural not only found a home but artists were compensated for their time and creative contributions. Yard signs of the mural could be seen across the city, bumper stickers emboldened cars, and The Pullman Arts Foundation was formed. And a little media company in Spokane was lucky enough to be asked to capture the story in video form.
I hadn’t worked with Mei in person before, I knew of her from Art on Monroe, her illustrations, and the story of the BLM mural over social media – but being able to interview and hear from Mei and the people of Pullman firsthand was an uplifting experience. It was by far the most tiring workday I’ve had so far at Rogue Heart Media, but it was also the most fulfilling. This story is a reminder that change can be made, underrepresented voices are powerful, and when a community stands together compassion will win.
Visit pullmanartsfoundation.org to see all the ways they continue to impact change!