Love Letters to the City is an urban interventions project initiated by art collective ICY Signs. Stephen Powers and his team work for the City of Baltimore in order to reactivate communities in the east and southwest sides. The project consists of daubing urban ‘love letters’ onto walls in neighbourhoods that are usually over-run with violence, drug abuse, abandoned houses and neglect.
Stephen Powers likes to think of himself as a ‘visual sound system’, allowing noise to emanate from his art. Before he and his team started painting in the neighbourhoods, there were a lot of community meetings. This was in order to distinguish what ways that specific community is able to express itself, considering things like “why do we live here?” and “what do I want to change?”. He took their ideas and tried to visualize these conversations in a painting. He doesn’t see the murals as graffiti but rather public art in the way it should be — for the public by the public. So in Baltimore you will see and hear the residents shouting “I AM HERE BECAUSE IT IS HOME” and “FOREVER TOGETHER” out of the walls of apartment blocks.
Up to now, the team has completed more than 10 paintings in Baltimore – even though funding ran out a long time ago. They nobly come over from New York whenever they are free, on their own expenses, to finish what they started. Worldwide the team of ICY Signs has worked in public art projects in eight cities in over 11 years and also published a book.