Months after one of the most contentious elections in U.S. history, and just weeks after an attempted coup at our nation's capitol, the idea of national identity is as omnipresent in the minds of the American people as ever. We are constantly asking ourselves what it means to be an American today.
If you’ve noticed a brand-new mural near the corner of Mission and Fifth Streets, then you’ve seen a small sliver of the answer.
“In each city we tried to find something that felt perfect for this moment,” explains Bill Margol of PBS, who helped commission the mural. “And God knows it’s an interesting moment.”
For their American Portrait project, PBS and production partner RadicalMedia gathered over 12,000 responses to a series of prompts, in mediums ranging from photos to text to video. Some of those submissions will be commemorated by public murals, in seven cities across the country—Washington D.C., New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta, and San Francisco.
Margol explains that the San Francisco mural was inspired by the prompt “I took a risk when...” In response, Lawrence W. submitted a story about coming out as trans to his parents, classmates, and teachers. The ending line of his story, “Life is so much better now that I’m being who I really am,” was selected as the quote for San Francisco’s mural and sent to a Bay Area-based artist for interpretation.