Black artist commissioned by Biden-Harris campaign to create "get out the vote" mural in Durham

The mural hangs several feet above ground level on the exterior brick wall of 112 West Main Street in Durham.

Bold strokes of black, white and various shades of gray depict three Black women who appear ready and eager to go vote, or urge others to cast their ballots.

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The artist behind the image, Antoine Williams, has deep roots in North Carolina. Born in Red Springs, educated at UNC Charlotte and UNC Chapel Hill, Williams teaches art at Guilford College.

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"I tell my students when I talk to them, what are your skills? What can you bring to the conversation?"
So how, and why, did he create the mural?

"Last few times we didn't, this state didn't vote the way I wanted us to, so I hope that we have something different this time," he said.

As for the Biden-Harris campaign's connection: "Somebody who knew me reached out to somebody who knew them, you know how those things work. And then I got an email."

The campaign commissioned him and seven other Black artists to create inspirational murals for communities of color in battleground states Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida, Ohio, Georgia and North Carolina.

Williams said he's inspired by civil rights pioneers like Fannie Lou Hamer: "How each generation of Black women has been doing this hard work. Some that we know and a lot that we don't know, who repeatedly showed up for the community."

The central image of the mural amplifies that perspective, he explained.

"These two women being this base for the future, and so having this hair, having this fabric sort of intertwined, just to be this base for what could be the next generation."

There are visual references to the US Mail, the focus of some anxiety among voters worried about timely delivery of their mail in ballots, and a Biden-Harris campaign sign woven into a huge Afro that grows from and high above the heads of those women.

Williams and the other artists hope their murals inspire everyone who can vote to show up at the polls on or before Election Day next Tuesday.

"I think democracy is on the ballot. I think it's really important for people to go vote. I don't think we have perfect candidates, but at the same time, this is an election that no one should sit out," he said.
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