Street art tells a story. Sometimes the message is subtle, other times loud and provocative; almost always evokes feelings, makes us think, or even act. It is free for all to experience. While passing by, we can happen upon it unprepared or expecting to be struck again by the image or the idea left there for us by the creators of the work. We may learn about something or someone and when that happens, a connection is formed. Making connections is a focal point of our mission at Dot Dot Dot…Connect.
When Marcelina brought the idea of creating a mural in Austin, we gravitated to a story that is related to what we care about, what we have in common, and what we want to share with the Austin community.
We told this story to two artists and asked them to turn it into a mural. They live across the ocean from each other: a graphic designer, Julia Mirny, from Poland, and a local Austin muralist, Dan Terry. The image they created is about two strong and influential women artists whose lives and careers span a similar time period: Pola Negri and Josephine Baker. Our choice of artists is not coincidental. There is a certain symmetry in their life experiences. Pola Negri emigrated from Poland to the US and became a Hollywood icon of the Silent Cinema era. Josephine Baker, born in the US, emigrated to France and became one of the most successful African American artists in French history. Our intention is to emphasize this symmetry, illuminate connections across cultures, and point to the positive impact emigrants have on their adopted countries.
Initially, we thought of devoting the mural to Pola Negri alone – not only was she Polish (all of us were born there too) but she also spent the last 25 years of her life in Texas (San Antonio). However, the protests for racial justice happening around the country, brought the desire to honor the incredible Josephine Baker, admired by her adopted France long before given due recognition in America. Having them on the mural in Austin together will bring their stories alive and let us, passersby in Austin, think and learn more about them.