LUMBERTON — Three local artists will have the chance to display their original works on a 150-foot-wide scale this spring.
The Robeson County Church and Community Center recently announced its Home Store Mural Contest, in which the winners — a high school student, a college student and a professional/working artist — will have free range to paint a mural on a portion of the Center’s Home Store.
“We want to just see the community from the artists’ perspective,” said Brianna Goodwin, Center executive director.
Winners of the contest will receive $1,000 for supplies to paint an approximately 25-by-50-foot portion of the exterior wall and a cash prize. The winning high school artist will receive a $1,000 cash prize, the college student, $2,500, and the working/professional artist, $5,000.
The Center is looking for entries that provide designs that reflect Robeson County. The medium for original submissions are not limited, but color is encouraged.
“We don’t want to give too many guidelines because we want people to really use their creativity. We want to be able to see it through their lens,” Goodwin said.
Center staff and a special committee will review the entries and select two finalists in each experience category based on artistic quality, strength of concept, originality, uniqueness and suitability to the surrounding neighborhood.
Goodwin anticipates concepts that incorporate the Lumber River and represent the diversity within Robeson County.
“We want to see something that is very specific to Robeson County,” Goodwin said. “Some of the things that are special about our county that would remind some people that lived here and moved away some of the good times they had here.”
Once the six finalists are decided, it will be up to the public to decide by vote. The three winners will be announced this spring, Goodwin said.
News of the contest already has spread like wildfire on social media. More than 3,500 people reacted in some way within 24 hours of the announcement on Facebook this week.
“We are anticipating many entries in each of those categories,” Goodwin said.
Goodwin was inspired by public art she saw while in Denver to attend a conference.
“Downtown Denver is just like a myriad of public art,” Goodwin said. “I mean it’s everywhere, and it truly lifts your mood.”
Goodwin did some research and found many benefits to introducing public art into communities.
“There are all kinds of statistics about how the crime rate goes down in areas where there is public art, it’s a boost for mental health and it’s the only kind of art that can be enjoyed by everyone,” she said. “You don’t have to be of a certain socioeconomic status, you don’t have to be able to afford it. Art is a luxury, but this is art that’s accessible to everybody in the community.”
Being on the Robeson County Art Council, Goodwin also has seen the positive reception of the mural added to downtown Lumberton.
“People really received that mural well here in Lumberton,” she said.
Goodwin also wants that for the west side of Lumberton, which has areas that have been neglected when it comes to beautification projects.
“Certain businesses have moved out of this area, and I think West Fifth Street could use the revitalization,” Goodwin said. “I think it would be great for 95 traffic in terms of tourism and economy in this area to have an attraction here. We don’t really have anything like that on West Fifth Street.”
The goal for the mural is to not only brighten West Fifth Street but to inspire other communities throughout the county.
“I think its going to be such a hopeful feeling to know that we’re a part of something I think will be an even bigger theme across the county,” Goodwin said. “Just to be one of the entities that set the precedent for that I think is going to be really encouraging for our staff.
“We really think it’s going to be kind of a beacon and set the example for other areas around the county to incorporate public art into their agenda and make it a priority.”
All submissions must be accompanied by an entry form and sent to Chasity Skusa at firstname.lastname@example.org. The form can be found at https://www.robesontogether.org/mural-contest/. Only one entry per artist will be accepted. The deadline to submit an entry is 5 p.m. March 15.