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Norfolk, VA

Designing a platform for community interaction

The Project

The City of Norfolk identified project sites in three Norfolk Police Patrol Districts based on neighborhood diversity, traffic safety, police data, pavement conditions, and resident interest. Ground murals were painted at the three sites, and will become hubs for events to engage residents, embrace communities, and help ensure that those who live in the areas feel looked after and cared for. The Police Department participated in the events in an effort to increase police-community trust, and thereby improving police effectiveness and public safety. All three murals celebrate Norfolk’s black community in various ways, such as visual elements inspired by Adinkra symbolism and quilt design and through references to the Underground Railroad and Denby Park’s legacy as the “Times Square of the South”.

Improving Police and Community Relations Through Art

Best Practice Highlight: Designing for the Community

Local artist Mensah Bey was selected for the first project, a 100-foot ground mural in the Norview neighborhood. His design, titled “Gather in Abundance,” draws inspiration from West African Adinkra symbolism, with imagery representing unity, togetherness, abundance, and cooperation. In addition, the design creates a physical platform for participatory events. Amid a pandemic, social distancing was a prime consideration during any community gathering. The design incorporates flower symbols spaced 10 feet apart to indicated where individuals can safely stand during choreographed activities. Over the course of two days, Mensah Bey and his team oversaw 55 community volunteers and police officers to paint the mural.

Neighborhoods

Norview, Tidewater Gardens, and Denby Park

Number of Murals

3

Installation Dates

October 14-15, 2020, and June 19 and September 22-24, 2021

Lead Partners

Norfolk Arts

Boys and Girls Club of Southeast Virginia

Norfolk Police Department

Lead Artists

Norview: Mensah Bey

Tidewater Gardens: Dañetta Evans

Denby Park: Britney Renee Gatewood

Materials

Exterior latex paint

Square Footage of Artwork

6,525

Cost

Design: $9,000

Labor: $6,000

Supplies: $5,020

Links

Website

Facebook

Instagram

Use the slider to see the transformation

Norfolk: Before
Norfolk: Before
Before
After

“The messaging I wanted to portray through this project is putting artwork in these somewhat forgotten communities as opposed to in the designated art districts. Everybody deserves the arts.” 

Mensah Bey, Artist


For inspiration and tips for the creation of art on roadways and public places, download the Bloomberg Associates Asphalt Art Guide which features successful plaza and roadway art activations around the world, as well as key steps for developing such projects.

Asphalt Art Guide