Curtis Wallace | AADL Black Lives Matter Muralist
Following the Ann Arbor District Library's Call for Artists in 2020, AADL installed a Black Lives Matter mural on the south side of Library Lane on Friday, May 21 featuring the works of eight artists.
Below is our interview with muralist Curtis Wallace.
Q: Tell us about yourself.
A: I am from Ypsilanti by way of Flint Michigan. I have been studying and pursuing art professionally for what is going on my 34th year in November. I am artist/CEO/founder of The Be Creative Studio LLC, a community art and event space. As well as The Be Wear LLC: Inspirational Apparel that pollinates the soul and spirit!
Q: What's your earliest memory of making art and your earliest memory of being affected by art?
A: When I was 9 years old in Kansas City, Missouri, I lived with my blind Grandfather for a year. He was not born blind. It happened in one of our World Wars. Looking back, he knew why my family was there and used art to distract me as a little boy from some ills of the world. He used to ask me to draw what I saw. He told me it helped him so he didn't forget the beauty in the world. He always asked me to explain what I was drawing and seeing. I used art as a survival and coping mechanism growing up in a poor home and community that had no support or resources for kids like me, to distract me from the things I didn't understand. It is so crazy how many times art has gotten me out of so many moments that could have ended up not so good for me. I would find myself leaving parties and events early to create. In this part of life, I intend on letting art get me into rooms with amazing human beings with high creative frequencies.
Q: Tell us about your mural and your art.
A: This piece is Influenced by two of my most favorite art impressionist and portrait painters, Vincent Van Gogh and Kehinde Whiley. Van Gogh, known for his small, orchestrated strokes of color to create movement and flow. Wiley, portraying everyday people of color in the light of excellence. The 12-year-old year old is my son. I wanted him to always remember how much I love him and am inspired by his presence. I wanted viewers to see a kid of mixed culture and genetic makeup on this large scale. I wanted to capture him before he turned 13, the year when the world starts to see him no longer as this cute little boy with hopes and dreams and light and love and kindness and feelings. Rather as someone, not of man, monster, black, a criminal, 3/5 human, a threat, a cash cow, an opportunity to continue to keep systematic racism alive and well. I wanted to give him clues and reminders of where his ancestors came from. Royalty to the light and kings of our own destiny.
AADL Black Lives Matter muralist interviews:
- T'onna Clemons
- Quadre Curry
- Demario Dotson
- John Rodriguez
- Jaleesa Rosario
- Rachel Elise Thomas
- Curtis Wallace
- Avery Williamson