Artists bring new mural art to life in DC’s NoMa

WASHINGTON — If you’ve walked through D.C.’s NoMa neighborhood over the last week or so, you’ve likely seen artists at work bringing new murals to the community.

This year’s POW! WOW! D.C. festival features 15 muralists, many of whom are from the D.C. area. Kaplan Bunce, however, came to participate from Hawaii and says his work is greatly influenced by his Apache heritage.

“I really wanted to make a piece for the people of Washington, D.C., to honor the original inhabitants of this land, the indigenous people,” Bunce said. “I’ve really fallen in love with it here. … Everybody’s been super supportive and really thankful — that’s really the reward of getting to do an event like this, is interacting with the public.”

Farther down the Metropolitan Branch Trail, 17-year-old Julia Chon was painting cheerful-looking animals on a rich blue background.

“My parents got divorced when I was 14, and after that I kind of dove into art. It was just a way to work through a lot of emotions. … It kind of grew over the last two years, like a lot — very fast! And now I’m here during a mural for the first time,” said Chon.

She’s incorporating her Asian heritage in her mural’s design, and says the two cranes represent her grandparents.

Continuing down the trail, artists Mas Paz and CHELOVE are working on a collaborative mural.

“It’s an annual festival, and the art is somewhat ephemeral — it’s not going to be there next year. So you’re always excited to see what’s going to be painted that year, and make sure you’re there for the creation of the artwork,” CHELOVE explained.

Another artistic duo is working just a couple of blocks over. Artist Matt Corrado is working with retired surgeon Stuart Battle.

“This year, I was good pals with Kelly, who is the director of the D.C. POW! WOW! And he had mentioned that AARP was interested in sponsoring and had pitched the idea of an artist collaborating with a senior citizen. I had the perfect person in mind: my father-in-law,” said Corrado.

“I retired about two years ago, so I have been taking classes at Montgomery College. I had to have something to do because after 40 years of stress, stopping is difficult,” Battle said. “This has given me something that I can do and I enjoy very much, to paint and draw.”

The two decided on a bright portrait of Albert Einstein, who Battle says he admires.

The POW! WOW! D.C. events run through May 27, but you will be able to see the completed murals throughout NoMa for the next year.

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