Following the Ann Arbor District Library's Call for Artists in 2020, AADL installed its Black Lives Matter mural on the south side of Library Lane on Friday, May 21. The community-based project is the culmination of nearly a year of work between AADL staff, the local arts community, and a community review panel featuring Jamall Bufford, Marianetta Porter, and Rochelle Riley. Artistic Coordinator Avery Williamson helped lead the project and contributed art for one of the eight panels, which includes work from seven other artists showing what the phrase Black Lives Matter means to them: T'onna Clemons, Quadre Curry, Demario Dotson, John Rodriguez, Rachel Elise Thomas, Jaleesa Rosario Turner, and Curtis Wallace.
"We are so gratified by the response to the AADL Call for Artists that has led to the installment of this collaborative mural at the Downtown Library, and to the addition of works by local Black artists that have been added to the very popular AADL circulating art print collection," said Library Director Josie Parker. "We appreciate the opportunity to bring these artists and this work to the AADL community and look forward to continuing these initiatives and relationships."
Avery Williamson chose the letters used to spell Black Lives Matter specifically to speak to the breadth and diversity of the Black experience. The letters were drawn from images in the Ann Arbor District Library and African American Cultural & Historical Museum of Washtenaw County (AACHM) archives and identify moments and places significant to Washtenaw County Black history.
"It was important to me for the letters to honor the spaces where history has been made, and to encourage the community to imagine and celebrate Black futures," writes Avery Williamson, Artistic Coordinator.
The Library plans to install complementary panels next to the mural to highlight each of the artists involved, and show the original use of the letters through photographs from the archives with additional information about the moments and places depicted. The Library also plans to host a dedication event sometime in the summer, and an Artist Showcase featuring works for sale later in the year.
Pulp interviews with the AADL Black Lives Matter Mural artists:
- T'onna Clemons
- Quadre Curry
- Demario Dotson
- John Rodriguez
- Rachel Elise Thomas
- Jaleesa Rosario Turner
- Curtis Wallace
- Avery Williamson