Empire Strikes Black: Rochester artist Shawn Dunwoody transforms MLK Park with community’s help

Local News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Rochester artist Shawn Dunwoody’s latest project is complete, the creator said Friday morning.

“The Empire Strikes Black” is a community-driven chalk project at Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Park at Manhattan Square in downtown Rochester.

Dunwoody thanked the City of Rochester for giving him the go-ahead with this project on Twitter Friday, and thanked the volunteers and community members who contributed to the vision.

Dunwoody is one of Rochester’s most recognizable artists — recent civil unrest and momentum behind the Black Live Matter movement have only amplified his message.

Just last week, Dunwoody led a crew of people in painting “Black Lives Matter” in blue on Court Street in Rochester.

Dunwoody’s work often involves collaborative efforts, like the Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass statue unveiled outside School No. 22 earlier this year, which was aided by students of Rochester School of the Arts.

Another example was during last year’s Jazz Festival when Dunwoody spearheaded an initiative to paint piano keys, with help from volunteers and festivalgoers, on the crosswalks at Main Street and Gibbs Street in downtown Rochester.

Back in 2018, Dunwoody sat down with Adam Chodak to talk about growing up in The Crescent of Rochester and his mission to spread good will through art.

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