“We believe learning a new language is about building bridges into new cultures and ideas, inclusive by its very nature,” Duolingo states in the submission guidelines. “We hope to capture this optimistic worldview in our new public artwork in a meaningful and thoughtful way, that will continue to inspire residents and visitors to Duolingo HQ in East Liberty for years to come.”
For the artwork, Duolingo will consider “painted murals, multimedia, light-based art, façade-based sculpture, and any other that can be feasibly realized within or upon the façade of Duolingo.” The application deadline is May 24 and the project has a budget of $50,000-80,000. The artist is expected to be chosen in early June, with the project aiming for completion in August 2019.
Since the finished product will be a work of public art, Duolingo is asking for feedback from its neighbors.
“We are including members of the community on the artist selection committee and are working with a local art consultant who has significant experience in public artwork in Pittsburgh,” says Sam Dalsimer, PR manager for Duolingo. “In addition, we expect the artist to make community involvement a part of their design process.”
Dalsimer also compares the project to an artist residency program that will evolve with the artist. “We do not want to prescribe the scope of this part of the project yet, but rather wish to design this along with the artist, once they are selected,” he says.
The East Liberty building now occupied by the Duolingo offices was once home to the mural “Lend Me Your Ears,” which spanned around two sides of the building, designed by Jordan Monahan and painted by Monahan and Alison Zapata in 2003. The mural remained until 2015 when it was sold to real estate developers Alphabet City. Many saw it as both a real and symbolic sign of rapid changes in the neighborhood.