Salt Lake City seeks artists to help with new Black Lives Matter mural

(Trent Nelson | Tribune file photo) Black Lives Matter protests at City Hall Salt Lake City on Wednesday, June 10, 2020.

Mayor Erin Mendenhall wants to see the words “Black Lives Matter” on the walkway leading to the east steps of Salt Lake City Hall, with letters designed by local artists.

The city will accept design ideas, which artists can submit at www.slc.gov/slcmural, until 5 p.m. on Wednesday, July 15. A committee will then choose eight entrants to fill in two letters each. The artists will receive a $300 stipend to cover their time and supplies.

“We’re taking this symbolic step as a city to boldly acknowledge this movement and commit to our role in it,” Mendenhall said in a news release. “An important part of this for us is creating a space where artists and community members are able to come together to express their feelings on this movement.”

While the mural will be painted with temporary materials, fading with time and weather, the city plans to document it for digital preservation.

“This mural is a symbol of how this country is changing, and coming to understand the movement,” said Lex Scott, Founder of Black Lives Matter Utah, in the news release. “We have been in these streets working towards justice and equality for 6 years. Now we get a visual representation of our work and goals to truly achieve justice in this country.”

The call for submissions comes amid a growing national movement in support of Black Lives Matter, especially after George Floyd died when a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Salt Lake City has seen its own unrest and ongoing protests against police violence, including daily marches demanding justice for the death of Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal, who was shot by Salt Lake City officers on May 23. Mendenhall and the Salt Lake City Council have also received thousands of comments demanding they defund the police department. Elected officials are currently working on a review of the police budget.

The committee reviewing mural designs includes Mendenhall, Scott, council member Ana Valdemoros and creative director Chris Owens. The committee is expected to select winning designs on July 16. Work will begin on a date to be determined.