"We the People"
Black Love Mural Festival - IRLart 2021
This summer I applied to the Black Love Mural Festival, an opportunity that emerged in 2020 allowing Black creatives an outlet to express themselves during the Black Lives Matters Movement in 2020. In the heart of Denvers protest ground, Black Love Mural Festival was created. A safe space for Black creatives to engage, educate and inspire each other. This mural is my first public piece that will be on display at Civic Center Park until August 1st 2021 so make sure you go check out all the amazing artwork throughout the park.
My intention going into this mural was to use this platform to educate and reiterate to the public the importance of focusing and taking action on the issues I painted.
As with anything, trying something new allows you to gain opportunities for growth and I believe that is what I experienced with this piece. My typical medium for my work is acrylic and oil which I recently just started using this past year, so this mural was my first time using spray paint. It was a DEFINITELY out of my artist comfort zone, but I loved it! As you can see starting off this mural I didn't really know what I was doing regarding the background. The idea in my head was to have a bright bold abstract background surrounding the silhouette of the United States, I don't think its shown in this video here but I tried to sketch out the U.S first but didn't like how much outside space was left, so then I was left with switching it up!
I based this painting off of a smaller one that I've been working on and thought it would be really cool to upscale it to use for this platform. I created stencils of silhouettes of people and tested out the size across the board. I realized I still wanted this to have the "USA" feel since I was focused on social issues based here in America. So what better way to incorporate America than to use our flag a symbol of our history, "freedom", rebellion and much more.
I typically paint at home, so painting in public gave its own challenges. People would walk up and give their opinion on my work instantly before it was finished or just stop and watch me paint ( which I'm not going to lie sometimes made me uncomfortable) Like you know the feeling when someone is staring at you and you look up and make that awkward eye contact. It felt a lot like that, but instead of looking up and getting eye contact, I received conversation. Some good thoughts about the work I was doing and some negative asking why I felt the need to paint "Black Lives Matter". Both views were necessary because it allows me grow as an individual in my own values and perceptions of these issues and as an artist to be vulnerable to hear other opinions about my work.
As you can see in this video, LOCATION CHANGE!!!! Man oh man, this was tough!! The City moved our murals in the middle of the park where there are many unhoused individuals. To starting in an environment where the occasional person would walk by to a heavy trafficked area was a game changer. I had people sleeping on the bench next to me, addicts who were screaming in the park and a man who walked up and peed right next to my work 😅. I had to have a long conversation with myself about preserving through this piece ( S/O to my brother in law Josh in the video who was my security guard for the day!!) Thankfully there were other artists in the same boat as me who felt the same disappointment but had the same grit. A huge SHOUTOUT to Aisha Renee (@iishieii), Holly Kai (@ we_must_grow) and Talaya Banks (@sunlightquartz).
Being in this space humbled me, I talked to individuals that I probably wouldn't have had on a regular basis. I heard stories from folks that gave up or fell victim to this society, I got to feed the people and see the impact of homelessness on a day to day basis, what this really exposed is the dangerous narrative that this cant be fixed. Theres so much work that needs and can be done, there is no reason that there are homeless people on our streets and in our parks. Its not just the homeless community that we need to look closely at but all the issues that I painted on this mural: Black Lives Matter, Missing children, Environmental racism, Tulsa Race Riots, Protecting Black Women, Abolishing ICE, Prison system/ Justice systems, Native American Children, DACA students and many more that you'll have to go check out yourself!!