By Erin McCullough
Following the successful “Walls for Women” public art campaign this year, Coffee County-based public art advocacy organization Do More Art - Events (DMA) will be expanding the female-driven campaign into 2021, thanks to a partnership with the Tennessee Arts Commission.
According to founder Kristin Luna, DMA was selected as the Southeast representative for the National Endowment for the Arts’ (NEA) nationwide women’s suffrage centennial grant in partnership with TAC.
Per the NEA, the $25,000 grants will be given to six regional arts organizations (RAOs), such as DMA in the Southeast, in order to “support the creation of a public art mural to commemorate the centennial of the 19th amendment.”
One hundred years ago, Tennessee became the final state to ratify the 19th amendment, which granted women the right to vote. The state celebrated the centennial anniversary of the passage of the amendment in myriad fashion in August, around the time the vote was cast.
Having this partnership will allow Luna and DMA to bring more public art to Tennessee next spring, she said.
“We will be using the grant to install two murals in rural towns of Tennessee in spring 2021,” she said. “Preference will be given to the towns that have a strong tie to the suffrage movement, that may not already have any public art and that already have a wall in a prime location that we have permission to paint.”
In addition to the art itself, Luna said she hopes to bring in a “heavy interactive component” to the murals, wherever they end up being installed.
“[We] want to bring the local elementary school kids into the process via a mock election of what artwork goes up in their town as a way to further teach them about the importance of the 19th Amendment and what it stood for,” Luna said.
Ultimately, Luna said, the goal is to bring more art to rural communities, which can help increase tourism in an era that has seen the tourism industry decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Interested towns that would like to apply to have a mural painted in their communities are encouraged to apply at wallsforwomen.com. The deadline to apply for the murals is Jan. 15, giving communities several weeks to put together their applications and pitches for why they should be selected. After Jan. 15, the DMA board of directors will narrow down the applicants to the strongest two contenders, Luna said.