ITHACA, N.Y. — In an effort to help evolve the Ithaca City streetscape, Ithaca Murals are getting ready to fund the addition of 20 murals highlighting issues of justice and cultural heritage throughout the city for Justice Walls 2020.

Currently, Coordinator Caleb Thomas is getting the word out that submissions are due by Feb. 20, and that people don’t necessarily have to be professional artists to participate.

“I want this mural application to get into the hands of people who have never painted a mural before or been part of a public art project before. Artists of color and working-class artists, those with jail experience and women and kids. Anyone who has a colorful creative message to tell,” Thomas said.

This year will mark the third year of the Justice Walls project, Thomas said that 2018 had six projects while there were 13 funded in 2019.

“We would like to fund 20 cultural heritage and justice-related mural projects this year and they can be at or in schools, homes, vehicles, business or anywhere that faces the public. The submission can be from an artist or people who have a space, like a teacher in a school or a homeowner who would like a mural on their garage that will be seen,” said Thomas. “Private businesses are also encouraged to apply and we are very open to the space being inside or outside so long as it gets traffic in our community.”

To help with the creation of the murals, Thomas said that Ithaca Murals would provide up to $800 per approved mural.

“This is money available for whatever artists can dream up as kind of an incentive to have more colorful pictures in our area,” Thomas said.

While clear that he couldn’t play favorites, Thomas said he is always delighted by the vibrant submissions and happy with how the murals throughout Ithaca funded by Ithaca Murals represent the city.

“Through the different murals, you can see the kind of people that live in Ithaca. And everyone can see the difference they have made the last 10 years and how they have impacted Ithaca,” said Thomas. “We have seen the underground railroad mural, green street, the Five Pillars of Islam, indigenous murals by indigenous people, murals honoring black women, Latin American history, nature, taking care of the earth and the waters and more.”

A non-profit, Thomas said that Ithaca Murals has helped add over 140 murals over the last 10 years.

“It’s a beautiful thing to help people express themselves, to give that gift to those that pass by for decades after they paint them. Sometimes the murals last for a year and sometimes they are ongoing, but it’s helpful to have this ever-changing cityscape that honors the people of this time.”

Thomas said that funding for the murals comes from a combination of grants, sponsors and individual donations.

To help encourage people to submit their ideas this year, the application process has been simplified.

“We’ve tried to make the application process very easy. A cover letter asking what people are doing, asking what they want to paint and why. Some technical things about materials and timelines and an image of the proposed mural. This is supposed to be fun for people after all,” Thomas said.

Submissions will be judged by a jury comprised of “Ithaca area justice leaders and representatives of co-sponsoring organizations” with the winners expected to be announced in March. Thomas said that it is his hope that every winning submission finishes their mural sometime in 2020.

“After this is all done I am actually planning on creating a mural map for Ithaca showing people where every single mural in the city is,” Thomas said.

Those interested in submitting applications can do so at the Southside Community Center

305 S Plain St, Ithaca, NY 14850 or email submissions to

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