The Art of the Harlem Black Lives Matter Mural

I was one of eight artists proud to have been commissioned to work on the Harlem Black Lives Matter mural — located along four city blocks, on Adam Clayton Powell, Jr, Blvd. between 125th and 127th Streets, on both the north and southbound sides of the street.

Each artist selected two consecutive letters of the phrase — BLACK LIVES MATTER — and used those letters as a canvas to express personal perspectives on African American histories, current events, and conditions. While all designs were ultimately approved by the Department of Transportation, artists were given free reign to tell our stories according to our personal concerns and artistic styles. The end result created a tapestry of sorts, that weaves viewers in and out of the multiformity of the Black American experience.

My assigned letters, K and L, became silhouettes to translate some of the amazing photos that captivated us all from recent protests from around the world. Images of children in the protests particularly seared my soul: Their innocent faces juxtaposed against some of the chilling messages on their signs led me to ponder how they are interpreting and participating in this moment, and how we are all shaping their futures, hopefully for the better. I simply hoped my art would communicate some of the passion, unity, energy, and hope from the protests.

Work in progress on the Letter K

Harlem Park to Park and Got to Stop Social Impact Agency organized the mural’s creation, with artist LeRone Wilson as curator. Volunteer groups including neighborhood organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club of Harlem, Harlem Pride, Harlem Grown, and Uptown Grand Central worked on the solid red, black, and green letters on the southbound side of The Boulevard.

I was honored to work alongside distinguished artists, LeRone Wilson, Jason Wallace, Guy Stanley Philoche, Lesny JN Felix, Thomas Heath, Dianne Smith, and Joyous Pierce. I look forward to posting more on these amazing Harlem artists and their BLM mural art!

Photo: Donn Thompson