On the Record: The artist of “Starry Night Over Georgetown”
Vox spoke to Sa Mo (as he is currently referring to himself), the artist of the chalk drawing on the wall in Red Square. He has chosen to stay anonymous because “the art isn’t about the artist.”
Why did you decide to do this?
Georgetown needs more art.
What was your inspiration?
I wanted to do something that would be visually arresting, accessible in meaning, and hopefully a little inspiring. Last year during finals season, some kid chalked up portraits of Notorious BIG and Lil’ Wayne in the same tunnel I did Starry Night Over Georgetown. For me it was stunning–“Oh wow, you can use this wall as a canvas, not just to annoy everyone with fliers”. That kid really got the ball rolling in my head. If (s)he could use this space for art, what could I do with it?
How/when did you do it?
I invested in a pack of street chalk and a ladder and got to scribbling in the wee hours of 12/7.
How long did it take?
It took 4 hours to chalk. I had been working on compositions in my spare time for about a month before that.
Was getting in trouble a concern?
I’m pretty curious about whether I would have gotten in trouble. I hope DPS has something better to do than crack down on someone rubbing calcium powder against some bricks.
How do you feel about how this has been perceived?
I’m glad. It’s been really flattering to see it popping up on social media and getting the positive feedback. Yesterday I sat at the bench by the Red Square wind tunnel for about 10 minutes and tried to gauge people’s reactions. What I saw was really, really humbling.
A few people took pictures. There was this one couple speaking Spanish as they approached the tunnel. They stopped and the girl said in English “Oh my God, it’s so beautiful.” They stood there for like a minute just experiencing the thing. And then one of them asked, “Who did this?” I laughed to myself, wondering if they’d believe that the artist was literally 10 feet away from them. It’s also weird when people like that compliment your art and you know it’s sincere because they have no idea who you are. I know how I felt about my piece as I was doing it, but to see the same reaction from a complete stranger? How cool is that?
Did you have an intended message?
That’s for the viewer to figure out.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I challenge more artists to beautify this campus. I know you’re out there. I know you think Georgetown needs more art. I dare you to do something about it.
Photo: Isabel Echarte/Georgetown Voice