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A Public Art Initiative Brings Diversity to Cleveland’s Rail System

Cleveland gives commuters public art, encouraging egalitarian thinking in life and art.

by Diana Shi
14 November 2016, 1:05pm

All images courtesy the artists and Jasper Wong

Riders taking the Red Line of Cleveland’s train system can enjoy a new addition to their daily commute. A series of artist-created murals decorate the transit line, encouraging viewers to appreciate artwork free from the gallery setting, as well as promoting a message of open-mindedness among the community. The public art initiative INTER|URBAN strives to “challenge public transit riders emotionally and intellectually while making physical and cultural connections to their surroundings.”

Each large-scale mural draws inspiration from a winner of the local Ainsfield-Wolf Book Award, an achievement which celebrates themes of cultural diversity and social justice in literature. The placement of the outdoor art along a well-used commuter route emphasizes the escapist and influential nature of the pieces. The experience of viewing the artwork during a commute creates an atmosphere of contemplation, and also highlights the accessibility of the artworks.

A short video introduces viewers to members of the INTER|URBAN’s team. One describes the project as creating smoother pathways to promote tolerance and curiosity about other cultures, “When we live our siloed lives and speak to people who are mostly like us, and mostly agree with us, it’s rare for us to get an opportunity to see the world put together in a new way. But that is what the art is inviting and beckoning, people in motion to put their mind in motion.”

The murals not only initiate a beautification process in Cleveland, but also displays an endearing level of hope for the city’s future. In a voiceover, an INTER|URBAN member shares: “Our hope at The Cleveland Foundation is that this is just the beginning, that this first phase...sets the bar really high. So that you can ride any line and understand how powerful this work is, and how the creative community has risen to say, we are a community that cares...so that in a few years, the entire RTA system will actually be the world’s largest gallery.”

To learn more about INTER|URBAN and their public art project, visit their website, here.

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