In the Artist’s Words: Jay Coleman

By Editorial Team on October 23, 2015
Jay Coleman's Mayor 4 Life Mural in Ward 8. Credit: Photo by Wade Carey for East City Art.
Jay Coleman’s Mayor 4 Life Mural in Ward 8. Credit: Photo by Wade Carey for East City Art.


Originally published in the Fall 2015 East City Art Quarterly

East of the River—Mayor 4 Life Mural in Ward 8

“The function of art in our city has changed drastically over the past decade. What existed as immoveable landmarks and local monuments have either been razed by developers or covered by skyscraping condos. Coupled with this transformation is the soundbite, media-clip generation whose understanding of this city’s history is warped by social media and status quo attention deficit disorder. As an artist whose job it is to archive the past and excavate the future, I found it culturally necessary to memorialize The Honorable Marion Barry through a series of portraits and a mural that would reside in ward 8.

Artist Jay Coleman at the inaugural of his mural on March 6, 2015. Credit: Photo by Wade Carey for East City Art.

The mural was sponsored but was completed on a minimal budget, as monetary compensation was not the goal of the project. It was completed in the rain and snow with a small audience of residents and on-lookers providing support. Mayor Muriel Bowser assembled a committee of thoughtfully selected individuals to serve as the Marion Barry Naming Committee and introduced them to the community at the unveiling of the mural. This was a proud moment as an artist, DC Native, parent and educator as it created opportunities for the discussions to re-emerge regarding Barry and the plethora of unequaled contributions he made for our dear city. He accepted change, but not at the expense of the often voiceless communities east of the river. This mural is about getting the full story as opposed to the soundbites and art that reaches beyond aesthetic into the world of functionality.”

–Jay Coleman

In the Artist’s Words is a new column published by East City Art to allow artists to express their ideas directly to our readers.  Do you have something you would like to share?  Contact us at