Black Lives Matter Murals
Completed in 2021 by four artists using photos shot during protest marches in Trenton, Summer of 2020.
Late in the summer I was approached to help organize a Black Lives Matter mural project comprised of four individual 9x12 foot panels on the side of a downtown building. At first, I was thrilled to support a cause I believed in, but quickly had reservations about being a white man leading a project voicing the struggle for fair representation of Black Americans. In an effort to focus on equitability and proper representation, I reached out to Habiyb Shu'Aib, a black Trenton artist who had captured extremely powerful images of the summer’s protests about becoming a collaborator on the project. One of the goals of the project was to tie together visually or thematically the four panels each sitting about ten feet apart, too much distance for a single image or design to span all four. The solution was to purchase use of Habiyb’s photographs to visually create a theme and cohesive vision. The photos were shot in a mix of color and black and white, so the decision was made to use a greyscale color scheme and let the artists choose how to interpret the photos in their style, but without worrying about keeping colors consistent. The next step was lining up the painters, stressing having community artists creating images that represent community members. The plan was to have a mix of male and female artists, but after reaching out to multiple women artists, scheduling issues, availability, or the project's tight timeline prevented their participation and we ended up with four male artists (Kwenci Jones, Billy MF Brown, Andre Trenier, and myself), three from Trenton, and one from New York City (with a strong Trenton connection). The female representation I was hoping for came through in the image selection, with each artist choosing a photograph depicting women at the protests, one a father/daughter photo.
The project, funded by a combination of grant money and private donations, was able to compensate the photographer, four artists, and an installer (also a Trenton resident), and was well received by the public.