In the following weeks, every huge, block letter spelling out “Black Lives Matter” on the wall of a downtown business will be bursting with stories painted by 16 local Black artists and artists of color.
“We are living and witnessing a moment in time, a kind of paradigm shift, and really a second civil rights movement,” said Ginger Ewing, co-founder and executive director of Terrain, a Spokane nonprofit dedicated to creating opportunities for artists.
As a Black woman herself, Ewing said she’s been going through every emotion, whether it be sadness or anger, and having the ability to channel all of it into this project has helped her work through them.
She said she imagines it may be the same for the artists.
“There’s this cry and call around the world to celebrate and amplify and listen to Black voices,” Ewing said. “This project is an opportunity for nonBlack people to listen and learn.”
Artists feel the world in a way most people don’t know, she said, which made her think back to a quote she loves: “There’s no revolution without art.”
Ewing said she hopes the project gives Black artists and artists of color a way to express themselves in a big way. So far, Ewing has reached out to 16 artists to share their artwork on the wall of the building occupied by a pair of digital design companies, Seven2 and 14Four, located at 244 W. Main St.
The project is a conduit for the Spokane community to be able to see the world through Black eyes and listen to Black voices, she said.
The idea originated from conversations between leaders of Seven2 and 14Four about providing a space for artists of color to express and voice themselves, said Jeff Oswalt, president of 14Four. The logical thing then was to reach out to Ewing.
Volunteers from both companies began stenciling the letters on Wednesday and continued to tape around them, he said. On Friday, they began covering the letters with primer, with some volunteers arriving from 14Four as early as 8 a.m.
“The reason why we’re really doing this is to give the voice to people that don’t look like me,” said Oswalt, who is white. “It’s mostly get out of the way, get the canvas set, and then let the magic happen.”
As the project evolves in the following weeks, Ewing said she hopes people will reach out and try to learn from the artists and from Black community members.
The recent conversations and protests people are witnessing are incredibly important to Black people and people of color, she said, but particularly for Black people who are working through several emotions.
“Sometimes art is cathartic and it allows us to humanize each other and connect on an emotional level and hopefully even just putting those letters up will resonate with people,” Ewing said.
Editor’s note: This article was changed on Saturday, June 27, 2020 to correct the address of Seven2 and 14Four. The address is 244 W. Main St.
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