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Artist selected to decorate Reston’s Fairway Drive underpass with help from local students

Artist Shawn James has been selected to lead the Fairway Drive underpass project (via Shawn James)

A Baltimore-based artist has been selected to bring public art to life at Fairway Drive underpass in Reston.

Shawn James of Mural Masters, Inc. will work on the project, Public Art Reston announced last week. He started his company in an effort to create an outreach and mentorship program for inner-city youth.

The underpass project — which is a collaboration with Reston Association — will be the third permanent public artwork commissioned by Public Art Reston.

The open call for artists issued in February sought applicants to engage the community and enhance the perception of safety by deterring graffiti and tagging. James was selected from a pool of 34 applicants, five of which were interviewed by a selection committee.

“It was an honor serve on the Fairway Drive Underpass Project Art Selection Committee along with people representing a broad range of community perspectives,” Public Art Committee Chair Regina Coyle said. “Selecting one artist from the 34 talented artist submissions was very difficult. If funding were available, we could have easily awarded multiple artists underpass projects to lead within the surrounding community.”

According to Public Art Reston, James will develop a design for the underpass artwork with the help of workshops at Lake Anne Elementary School for students and families.

Here’s more from Public Art Reston on James:

James received his BFA in painting, photography, and art education from Old Dominion University, and went on to complete an MFA at the Maryland Institute College of Art. For over 20 year, James has worked in a variety of media to complete public and private commissions across the United States. He has extensive experience with small- and large-scale public art projects and working collaboratively with municipal organizations, private businesses, and community members. He is deeply involved in community arts, community activism, and youth mentorship.

His dedication to education includes his role as a program director for the Access Art Youth Center — an outreach program that provides art lessons for inner-city youth. Since his tenure, the organization expanded to a million-dollar program, spanning three schools on the west side of Baltimore. In addition to his artistic practice, James has been an Open Society Institute Fellow, served as director of the Baltimore Mural Program, and most recently was the Community Arts Coordinator for the Baltimore Office of Promotion and The Arts. For the latter, he managed the creation of over 150 murals and community-based projects.

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