Absolute Equality draws on historical language, imagery from African culture, and symbols of Black equality to celebrate the Juneteenth holiday and Black emancipation.
A portrait of a non-specific Black woman centers the work as a symbol of Black empowerment, inviting people of color to see themselves in the image. Language from the Emancipation Proclamation, “henceforward shall be free,” represents the first legal basis for Black liberation from slavery. “Absolute Equality” is taken from the proclamation that Union soldiers read to the Black citizens of Galveston Texas on the original Juneteenth in 1865, letting them know for the first time that they were free from slavery. Clenched fists and the words “Black Lives Matter” symbolize resistance and the ongoing fight for Black equality, and also celebrate the progress that has been made towards the “absolute equality” that was promised on Juneteenth. A brushstroke motif and traditional African fabric patterns modeled after a West African batik process reference self-expression, cultural identity, and the richness of Black history.
Oh My! Murals is a New York City based mural painting team comprised of Tyler Ives and Sara Lynne Leo that originated in East Harlem to provide affordable, vibrant artwork to local small businesses. Oh My! Murals has now painted over a dozen murals in the New York City area and throughout New England. Tyler Ives is a mural painter, protest artist, and sculptor – winning an Emmy award for his work as the prop-maker on HBO’s Sesame Street. As a queer artist, Tyler’s personal artwork is outspoken against discrimination and inequality. Sara Lynne Leo is a mural painter, street artist, and mental health advocate, achieving wide-spread attention for their hand-painted and wheat-pasted street art throughout New York City. Sara Lynne is a gender non-conforming artist, and their artwork comes from their personal experience living with mental health issues. Sara Lynne’s artwork takes the form of hand-painted comics that offer witty, sardonic, and often therapeutic messages, giving the general public a platform to discuss their struggles with mental health as well as the general the toils of everyday life.
Commissioned by Burlington City Arts and the Office of Racial Equity, Inclusion and Belonging