Murals of Acceptance is a dedication to artists, activists and dreamers.
Founders Kevin McCarthy and Patricia Arquette conceptualized Murals of Acceptance for a sister and best friend, Alexis Arquette, who was an activist that fought for acceptance and change through art.
Q and A between Patricia Arquette and Murals of Acceptance Founder Kevin McCarthy
Patricia Arquette - What inspired you to start Murals of Acceptance?
Kevin McCarthy - Alexis Arquette, your sister and my best friend who was an activist that fought for acceptance and change through art. In today's current civil rights climate, it seems that many great groups of people are being discriminated against, marginalized, and even hated. There are monuments in this country and around the world right now that signify oppression and even slavery that have become a rallying point for astonishingly horrible hate groups. I wanted to collaborate with the best fine artists alive today to make monuments that preach acceptance, love, and equality to everyone who sees them, and put them in places where everyone would.
Patricia Arquette - I really like the idea that these will be free art installations accessible to all people in public spaces. To be able to sit with art around you. To be able to ponder it. Experience it. Often times I think art in itself has been only accessible to certain segments of the population. Art placed behind walls where just the experience of going inside and having to pay a fee which you may not be able to afford is in itself elitist. I love museums and am grateful they protect and celebrate art but this project is beautiful because you are bringing it into the streets. How did you find your first artist?
Kevin McCarthy - My first artist is Kerry James Marshall. He currently has an entire floor at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. After seeing his exhibit and watching a video that was an interview with him I saw what he was trying to do and it all just clicked with me. Kerry has a truly amazing story of painting black people into art at the level of Renaissance painters. The civil rights movement all the way back from the 60s has impacted this man to become a civil rights leader through his art. After seeing his awe inspiring collection and message I thought he would be the perfect first artist. I was not sure how I would get him to do this or if he would have any interest in my idea at all. I was fortunate enough to come into contact with the curator of public art for the City of Chicago Nathan Mason who told me he liked my idea and had a contact with Kerry and would send him an email. I thought the chances were slim but I thought he was the best person for the job and kept my fingers crossed. As it turned out, Kerry loved the idea and agreed to do this painting as a donation to Murals of Acceptance. I was ecstatic, needless to say.
Patricia Arquette - It is such an unbelievable gift he is giving to the city. He is an art titan and his work is incredible. I know you were inspired to start this in Alexis Arquette's memory and that Alexis was an actor and also a painter and through her art she was able to express some of her feelings about the world and society and the lack of acceptance she felt as a Trans woman. Do you think art was an important tool for her?
Kevin McCarthy - I think important tool would be an understatement. Lex lived art, through many different mediums. Art speaks a universal language that does not discriminate. Alexis found a magical comfort and escape from a sometimes harsh, judgmental reality through both creating and enjoying art and artists. I personally always thought that Alexis herself, was a work of public art, a controversial living artwork that was able to truly experience the adoration and criticism that most art works will never have to. That was Alexis' very public image. Privately, Alexis' courage, strength, and heart will inspire me forever. Art inspires people, in many forms. Alexis inspired people.
Kevin McCarthy - Going back to the previous question, shortly after Alexis crossed over, I believe the love of your life, Eric White, who is also one of the most amazing artists ever, and a truly awesome, sweet guy was showing his work at the Chicago Art Expo and we all went to the MOCA together to see Kerry's exhibit, where we both cried partially because of his work, and partially because we missed Lex so much and wished she was there. Patricia, you are the reason I know about Kerry James Marshall. To clarify.
Patricia Arquette - Yes, being in that museum. In that city Chicago where we had lived when we were were small. The same city where the first mural will be gifted. Standing in those galleries and surrounded by the genius of Kerry James Marshall was overwhelming. His work was healing and hurting and pulsing with humanity. The sheer beauty and force of it. Art is powerful. It is one of the most elemental languages of our species. And like love art has the power of opening.
Kevin McCarthy - Chicago is such a great choice for the first mural for so many reasons. A civil rights stronghold even in tough times. I hope this will be a great inspiration of love and acceptance to not only the people of Chicago, but people everywhere in the world. And I can't wait to start working on more of these wonderful Murals of Acceptance. Patricia, you have impacted, inspired, and just flat out helped so many people and continue unrelentingly. You are an amazing artist, a thoughtful, hard working activist, and best of all, the best friend and soul sister anyone could have. Thank You.