MenaceResa’s ‘Rise Above’: A Powerful Tribute to Activism in Richmond Under Threat

by | May 4, 2023 | ART, COMMUNITY, STREET ART

In Richmond, Virginia, the traveling artist couple Menaceresa, (Menace Two and Resa Piece) have collaborated with artist Monolith to create “Rise Above,” a stunning mural that now faces potential removal by the Commission of Architectural Review. As part of their ambitious Fifty States Challenge, the duo plans to paint a couple of community murals in every state across the country.

The Richmond mural, marking the fifth stop on their journey, is a harmonious blend of each artist’s unique style. Menace Two, a graffiti writer from Queens, NY, who specializes in calligraphy, typography, and letterforms, painted the intricate letters. Resa Piece, a self-taught street art muralist also from Queens, designed the mural and painted a striking portrait, while Monolith added his artistic touch to the bottom letters.

“The Commission of Architectural Review was fast to contact the landowner to take the mural down ASAP,” the artists shared. However, the mural was painted over a wall that regularly endured graffiti and the cycle of buffing, making it an ideal canvas for community art.

'rise above' mural by menace & Resa
The wall before the mural

This mural is not only a part of Menaceresa’s Fifty States Project but also a reflection of solidarity with the mural facing across the street. Menace Two explains, “Richmond, Virginia, is the birthplace of the slave trade in the United States, so it was only right that we painted this piece to uplift the people here.” Collaborating with Monolith, who contributed his knowledge of resistance and grassroots movements, the trio aimed to pay tribute to the activists that paved the way for us all.

'rise above' mural by menace & Resa
'rise above' mural by menace & Resa
Details of ‘Rise Above’

While they did not receive formal permission from the landowner, Menaceresa chose a high-traffic, graffiti-tagged wall to paint their mural, never painting over clean surfaces.

In a similar case involving a mural around the corner, the same board decided to allow the owner to keep the mural, as removing it would cause more damage to the wall. The same consideration should be given to “Rise Above,” a meaningful piece of community art that showcases the power of unity and artistic expression.

As Menaceresa continue their Fifty States Challenge, it’s crucial to recognize the unifying power of art and the value it brings to communities. The Commission of Architectural Review should reconsider its decision and allow “Rise Above” to remain standing as a symbol of solidarity and artistic expression in Richmond.

ed. note: This mural has been deemed in violation of Richmond Commission of Architectural Review (CAR) standards and is slated to be removed. If you have questions or would like to express support for the art, please contact or call 804-646-6304!

R. Anthony Harris

R. Anthony Harris

I created Richmond, Virginia’s culture publication RVA Magazine and brought the first Richmond Mural Project to town. Designed the first brand for the Richmond’s First Fridays Artwalk and promoted the citywide “RVA” brand before the city adopted it as the official moniker. I threw a bunch of parties. Printed a lot of magazines. Met so many fantastic people in the process. Professional work:

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