Request for Qualifications

Project Description

Downtown Durham, Inc. is seeking an artist, or group of artists, to develop a design and paint a mural on the north and south walls of the railroad bridge (east of the trestle) at the intersection of West Chapel Hill, Great Jones, and Ramseur Streets. With guidance and support from DDI staff, the selected artist or group will conduct community engagement, develop a theme and design, and execute a mural on the retaining walls. 

This location is a key connection between the Durham Transit Station, the Amtrak Station, and the downtown loop, linking the Mutual District and the West End to Main Street and East Durham. The Great Jones Street Mural flanks a key corridor and presents an opportunity for an immersive mural for those on foot or on wheels. We are interested in projects that thoughtfully and creatively integrate community engagement as a key component of the overall artwork. Our expectation is that the artist, or team, selected will include community members (through events, workshops, concerts, meals, digital media etc.) in the development of the mural’s content. We are particularly interested in work that uplifts and amplifies voices and stories in Durham that have been marginalized. 

The call for applications is now open with a deadline of 5pm on January 7, 2021. Community engagement and project execution are expected to begin in February 2021 with an unveiling in the summer. DDI has allocated $10,000 for the community engagement and design phase of the project, as well as seed funding. Once the artist (artist team) is selected, DDI will engage in robust fundraising with an expectation of up to $65,000 for final project execution ($75,000 max project total). 

Project Goals

  • To create a public artwork, in the form of a painted mural, that serves to foster connection, both physically and symbolically. 
  • To engage Durham-based artists and those that live, work and play in Durham throughout the creative process.
  • To enhance the pedestrian and street experience for all those utilizing this key connection route.
  • To uplift what makes Durham unique, how Durham nourishes us and the ways that we connect as a community.


  • Artists or artist teams with at least one member who lives and/or works in Durham County.
  • At least one artist on the artist team must have experience painting murals.
  • Artists committed to socially engaged art, collaboration, and professionalism.
  • While the call is open to all, artists who represent historically marginalized populations are encouraged to apply.

Additional Considerations

  • In consideration of making the public art application process more accessible, it is highly favorable for experienced muralist applicants to be willing to mentor emerging public artists.
  • If you are an experienced muralist or an emerging muralist that needs help connecting to a team, please reach out.
  • If you missed our virtual office hours but still have questions, please email [email protected] and CC [email protected]

Site Specifications

  • The available mural space is up to 3200 square feet.
  • Please note that this initiative is for painted murals only (acrylic and/or spray paint) and other materials and processes cannot be considered.
  • You can view site photos and specifications here. Open images in new tab for full size.

Project Timeline

Issue date: November 18, 2020

Virtual office hours: December 8-17, 2020

° Wednesday, December 9: 12:00-1:00 P.M.

° Thursday, December 10: 5:00-6:00 P.M.

° Tuesday, December 15: 8:00-9:00 A.M.

° Wednesday, December 16: 12:00-1:00 PP.M.

° Thursday, December 17: 6:00-7:00 P.M.

Submittal deadline: January 7, 2021 (5:00pm)

Finalist selection: Week of January 25, 2021

Finalist interviews: Week of February 1, 2021

Artist selection: Early February 2021

Community engagement February – March 2021

Concept design approval process – April 2021

Installation: May – June 2021

Project Completion: by June 2021  

Application Requirements

You can find the application portal here

We recommend that you draft your application outside of the application portal so you can save your work and then cut and paste into the field prompts. Below is a sample of the requirements in the portal.


If applying as a team, submit the contact information for the lead artist:

  • First and last name
  • Pronouns
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Home address
  • Link to creative / art-focused social media, portfolio and/or website (optional)

Statement of Interest

Tell us about yourself (and your team), your interest in this project and about your relationship to Durham. Also, we believe your process, including how you engage the community, can be as impactful as the final product. We encourage you to approach this stage in the project thoughtfully and creatively and view it as a part of your artwork.  In what ways can you facilitate making virtual and/or socially distanced engagement opportunities in the Covid-19 context (consider using other media such as technology, posters, poetry, spray chalk, events, music, dance, and meals to engage the community) Max 1500 words

The follow are required items to include in the narrative

  • A brief bio for each artist and their roll in the project
  • Describe your mural experience (particularly with projects of this size and scope)
  • Describe your interest in the project
  • Describe your potential community engagement plan
  • Are you willing to mentor an emerging muralist or are you willing to partner with an experienced muralist, in the event that you don’t have ample mural experience?

The following are prompts to consider, but answers to all are not required

  • What lasting impact do you imagine your mural and process having on our community (socially, culturally, politically)? 
  • What voices will your mural amplify?  Who will interact with this artwork?
  • How will you involve community members in shaping the content of the mural? 
  • How will you ensure that you reach beyond your own personal networks and bridge cultural and/or language barriers? 
  • How important is it to you to consider space, place and context when approaching public art?

Work Samples

Upload 5-10 images of at least 5 different original artworks by the applying artist. If you are applying as a team you can submit up to 12 images and please include artworks by each artist on the team.


Is there anything you want us to know about these work samples? Here you can tell us about your process, media, size, budget etc. Please create a numbered list that matches the numbers on your image labels (250 words max)


Please provide 2 references for the lead artist (at least one of these references should be able to speak to your public art experience). Add one reference for each additional artist.

Name, email, phone number

How they know you

Selection Criteria and Process

The Selection Committee will consider the following.

  • Technical and creative capacity
  • Community engagement approach
  • Mentorship / capacity building opportunities and/or creative partnerships

The Selection Committee will review submissions and meet in January 2021 to select three semi-finalists. These semi-finalists will participate in interviews via Zoom during the week of February 1, 2021, at a time TBD. Final artist selection will be announced in early February.

Selection Committee

  • Antonio Alanis, Muralist and Durham Public Art Committee member
  • Rebecca Brown, Cultural and Public Art Program Manager, City of Durham, General Services Department
  • Yvonne Cash, Clerk, GoDurham
  • Jaiden Holden, First-Year Student, North Carolina Central University and Durham Mural Crew alumnus
  • Zena Howard, Principal, Perkins & Will, DDI Board of Directors member, and Durham Cultural Advisory Board member
  • Kyesha Jennings, Lecturer, North Carolina State University, and Durham Public Art Committee member
  • Jeff Lackey, Aesthetic Engineering Section Supervisor, North Carolina Department of Transportation
  • Patricia A. Murray, DJ Piddy Pat and Durham Skywriter
  • Nia Rodgers, RLA, Senior Construction Project Manager, City of Durham, General Services Department
  • Brian Smith, Senior Economic Development Coordinator, City of Durham, Office of Economic and Workforce Development


Who is considered an emerging muralist vs. an established muralist?

Very generally speaking, an emerging muralist is an artist, that may or may not have experience painting murals, that is interested in painting on a large scale. An established muralist would have previous experience facilitating a large-scale project. While we don’t want to narrowly define either, it is our hope that someone on your team has experience painting a mural at this scale and has worked with budgets of this size.

I have painted murals but have never facilitated a large-scale mural before. What should I do?

We are very interested in creating opportunities for established muralists to partner with emerging muralists in an effort to build capacity for local artists. We have created this Facebook Group as a way for interested applicants to connect. Also, please attend our virtual office hours for more information and if you are unable to do so please reach out via email! 

I’m an established muralist interested in forming a team. Can you help with that?

We are very interested in creating opportunities for established muralists to partner with emerging muralists in an effort to build capacity for local artists. We have created this Facebook Group as a way for interested applicants to connect. Also, please attend our virtual office hours for more information and if you are unable to do so please reach out via email! 

What do you mean by “Once the artist (artist team) is selected, DDI will engage in robust fundraising”? If you don’t have the funds for the project I’m nervous about applying!

While we understand that this amount of fundraising seems daunting, we are confident that once a proposed design has been approved, we will swiftly reach our fundraising goal. After the community engagement and design processes have been completed, it will be important for potential sponsors to be informed of the design plan and exact installation timeline. We would not pursue community engagement without this confidence and without the support and encouragement of the many stakeholders involved.

How can we do community engagement in the context of this pandemic?

It’s really important to DDI that Covid-19 safety protocol is followed in the community engagement process. Covid-19 has changed the way that we interact with each other and we will likely have to utilize online options for this aspect of the project. Creativity will be key!

I missed the virtual office hours but I have questions. What can I do?

We are happy to help! Please email [email protected] and CC [email protected]

If selected, what does the design approval process look like? Will I have creative freedom?

Public art, at it’s best, is a collaboration between artists, the community, and project stakeholders. This project is in the heart of Downtown Durham and as such, we are fortunate to have multiple partners invested in the project. One of those stakeholders is the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) and because the murals will be on an NCDOT right of way it will be important to follow their guidelines. Part of this process includes presenting the design to an NCDOT statewide public art panel, who will approve the final design. To help guide the process before submission, NCDOT staff will weigh in with feedback. 

Click below to view an NCDOT guidebook that may help you to better understand the process and inform what images you choose to submit. While the document is long, we have highlighted important considerations that will influence this project.


If you have further questions and/or need support with your submission please contact Project Manager Brenda Miller Holmes at [email protected] and include DDI-GJS in the subject line and please CC Gina Rozier at [email protected]