DC Public Library Open Call: Uncensored 2022

By Editorial Team on July 26, 2022

Deadline: Wed, 10 August 2022

Uncensored, 2015 installation by Nekisha Durrett.


An Art Installation Inspired by Clint Smith’s How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the  History of Slavery Across America at the Martin Luther King Memorial Jr. Library.

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS: Wednesday, August 10, 2022 

NOTIFICATION: Wednesday, August 17, 2022 

TO APPLY: Visit this link for application details. Applications must be emailed as a single PDF to publicart@dcplfoundation.org no later than August 10, 2022.

EXHIBITION LOCATION: Banner in two sections, to be installed on the exterior windows of the  Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, at the corner facing 9th and G Streets, NW (see images  of past installations, below). Banner has two sections: south facing panel (approximate  dimensions): 48’ tall by 30’ wide; west facing panel (approximate dimensions) 48’ tall by 10’  wide.


This year the DC Public Library’s UNCENSORED installation will be a large-scale banner raising  awareness of topics explored in Clint Smith’s bestselling nonfiction book How the Word Is  Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America. As Smith points out, the  increased push to ban “critical race history” in books and in schools is part of an ongoing effort  to suppress the history of white supremacy and the oppression of Black Americans. The  highlight of the month will be an author talk by Smith at MLK Library on Thursday, September  29, 2022. 

Submitted works may consider how censorship is another way of erasing memory or history  around issues that are uncomfortable for many Americans to consider.  


Banned Books Week was founded as the national book community’s annual celebration of the  freedom to read, express and create. The week is celebrated by hundreds of libraries and  bookstores around the country to highlight the problem of censorship and censored works.  

The purpose of this installation is to engage downtown D.C. businesses, residents, library patrons  and others in the community by exhibiting works that address these themes in the Martin Luther  King Jr. Memorial Library’s most prominent public-facing space. The artist fee for this project is  made possible through the generous support of the DC Public Library Foundation. 


Upon selection, the artist(s) and DCPL will sign a contract detailing responsibilities of both  parties for production and installation of the work.  

Although the exact deadlines are to be determined, we expect that a production-ready digital  file will need to go to print by late August. DCPL reserves the right to request modifications  based on the draft design and to modify the installation plan or remove the work; the artist will  be notified of any changes. 

Work samples will be evaluated according to the factors below. 


  • Factor 1 – Quality of Content Level of excellence demonstrated in previous work samples, including overall coherence, clarity, innovation; emotional impact; accessibility to a broad  audience. Includes a demonstrated knowledge of the subject matter, Washington, D.C. communities. 
  • Factor 2 – Demonstrated Professional Accomplishment in Chosen Field Including exhibition history, awards, honors, and publications, demonstrated proficiency and technical knowledge of the medium(s) in which the incumbent regularly works, including aptitude for planning and collaboration with partners and track record of completing projects on time and on budget. 
  • Factor 3 – Technical Approach Including feasibility of plan and budget, demonstrated understanding of project goals, and appropriateness for the DC Public Library setting. May include incorporation of community engagement and/or local research in project development.
  • Factor 4 Connection of Past Work to D.C. Culture and/or History Including potential for resonance with local communities and experience working on  projects related to D.C. culture, community, and/or heritage.


This call is open to artists and arts collectives. Artists must be 21 years of age or older. Priority is  given to artists with a connection to the D.C. region. 


Please include the following materials: 

  • PROJECT STATEMENT: Limit 250 words. Describe how the proposed artwork connects to  the theme. 
  • Complete APPLICATION FORM: See below. 
  • Current RESUME/CV: Include your full name, mailing address, phone number, and email  address.  
  • Work Samples: Please email a PDF no larger than 10MB in size, titled with the name of  of the artist or group — “First Initial_Last Name (or Group Name).pdf” 


Artwork will be selected by a committee comprised of DC Public Library Staff and members of the  Library’s Art Advisory Council. The selected artists or group will be awarded an honorarium of  $3000, and all costs associated with production and installation will be the responsibility of DC  Public Library. Selected artists will be notified by August 17, 2022.  

No Entry Fee Required 

Email submission materials to: publicart@dcplfoundation.org 

Please email any questions regarding this call to publicart@dcplfoundation.org