Smothers Elementary School Mural and Wall Sculpture - CODAworx

Smothers Elementary School Mural and Wall Sculpture

Submitted by Gavin W. Sewell

Client: Department of General Services / Smothers Elementary School

Location: Washington, DC, United States

Completion date: 2022

Artwork budget: $15,500

Project Team

Lead Artist

Gavin Sewell

Gavin Sewell studio

Artist's Agent and Facilitator

Margery Goldberg

Zenith Gallery


This Public Art commission was done in 2022 for Smothers Elementary School in Washington DC. It is a mixed-media diptych on wooden panels. The left panel is two feet by eight, and the right panel is just over eight by eight feet. The piece uses collage, metallic foils, ink transfer techniques, acrylic paint, drawing media and found two and three dimensional objects. It is coated with acrylic resin polymers for strength and longevity. The artwork was commissioned by the Department of General Services in consultation with a committee of school and community members for a total budget of $15,500. Concept and installation were facilitated by Zenith Art Gallery in Washington.


This piece is a celebration of people of color in the fields of science and exploration with a special emphasis on women of color. The two dimensional section of the artwork shows the faces of great explorers and scientists on a background of geometric abstraction inspired by weaving traditions from around the world. Their names and birthdates are incorporated into the three dimensional section at top along with found objects related to their careers. Metallic semi-reflective silhouettes of children at the bottom of the piece suggest the young scientists of the future and invite the students to see themselves in the artwork.


The concept and design were evolved by the artist in consultation with the selection committee. After approval of the final design the work was created by Gavin Sewell and his studio assistants over a two month period. Delivery and site installation were done by the artist and the team at Zenith Gallery.