London based contemporary artist Lakwena brings her vibrant geometric colours and inspiring text-based work to the city of Pine Bluff for ARkanvas: a statewide engagement bringing art experiences by world-renowned artists to Arkansas.
Invited by women-led global curator group Justkids and Arkansas organization OZ Art, Lakwena created a site-specific public art intervention under the theme “Unite” transforming Martin Luther King Jr. Park’s public basketball courts with a large-scale mural porting a powerful message.
With a rhythmic approach to colour and patterns, Lakwena’s stunning composition is lined with playful elements of basketball expressions such as “see me shoot” and “make it rain”.
At the centre, an empowering life-affirming message: “bury me down / still I rise” and “watch me flower” referencing the life and work of the great American poet and Arkansas resident Maya Angelou.
This is not Lakwena’s first public artwork in Arkansas. In 2017 the artist created a 360º mural within the courtyard of Sebastian County’s Juvenile Detention Center in Fort Smith for the art event Unexpected also curated by Justkids seeking to inspire youth to overcome or rise above their circumstances.
“This project in Pine Bluff was a chance to pick up from where I left off with that design in Fort Smith with Justkids in 2017. This piece continues on that trajectory of looking at growth and blessing in spite of adversity. I was really excited to work in a place with a largely black demographic. It was nice to make an artwork for people that I have a connection to in that respect, especially at what feels like a very significant time for the black community. The piece is called “I’ll bring you flowers”, flowers are often used as a way of greeting, paying respect and honour people, and I wanted to honour the community in Pine Bluff.” Lakwena
Her latest mural is part of the public art initiative called ARkanvas, a
statewide engagement curated by women-led global curator
group Justkids and commissioned by OZ Art in partnership with Unexpected, bringing public art by world-renowned artists to Arkansas communities.
This is not the first time Justkids has worked to bring public art to Northwest Arkansas. Since 2015 they have curated and produced over 50 pieces from sculptures to installations, performances, murals and pop-up exhibitions for institutions, cities and organizations.
Photo credit Justkids