Opinion | Iowa City needs murals to inspire social change locally

Iowa City has recently showcased new murals to invoke social change, but there should be more.


Jeff Sigmund

A mural is seen on Burlington Street on Monday, Aug. 30, 2021. Oracles of Iowa City is a mural project in collaboration with Public Space One and the Center for Afrofuturist Studies.

Luke Krchak, Opinions Columnist

Iowa City should enlist more local artists and residents to inspire social change by creating public murals.

Historically, art has been more than an icon of beauty and creativity; it also has been a motivator for change. Works of art can either address an issue directly or hint at it to increase awareness among its audience. To spur social change, people need to first that there is a problem that must be fixed. Murals can bring social change to light.

On Aug. 25, a set of art pieces called The Oracles of Iowa City were completed in downtown Iowa City. These murals are part of the city’s Black Lives Matter resolution to increase opportunities of artistic expression for people of color. 

This was not the only public mural created in Iowa City this year. Another one was designed by local artist Erica Danner. The piece was displayed on Iowa City’s composting and recycling truck storage to spread awareness about the climate crisis in Iowa City and around the world.

Around 120 volunteers showed up to paint the mural, which shows that art can not only be a vector for social change, but also bring together a group of people behind a common cause. If people can be a part of a community of like-minded citizens who want to help others, then murals can create that community.

More murals downtown could be on the horizon. Artists can submit proposals for murals located at George’s Buffet and on the pavement of North Linn Street. 

The mural for George’s Buffet would be a permanent installment on the east side of the building. With a budget of $6,000 to cover all material, lodging, and travel costs, it’s no wonder the downtown district expects a timeless quality. North Linn Street will have a mural on its pavement with a $4,000 budget. According to a request for proposals, the downtown district is looking for a semi-permanent piece to display on the street, which was opened as a pedestrian area during the pandemic. 

Both proposals ask for murals reflecting the city’s progressive community. We need art like the climate change mural that inspires change at the local level.

Art should not only be something created by one person for one idea — it should also be created by a group of people to share numerous ideas. It takes the entire community to either be the ones creating the murals to inspire others, or to view the murals in their daily lives and get inspired.

Iowa City needs to continue proposing locations for murals to provide local artists and residents a place to promote social change, whether that be addressing racism or climate change.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.