Shortly after we had planned our first Paint Party Class, my partner, Vanessa and I received news of a brutal fatality at the hands of the Minnesota Police Department: The death of George Floyd. It created social outcry from hundreds of thousands of voices that spanned the entire planet. This immediately changed our direction, our focus, and it consumed our energy.
We cried. We cried a lot. We mourned for Floyd as if he was our father, our brother, or our friend. Because we knew, too well, the realities of the unfair world in which we are living, and we knew that it could have been them. We began to question that reality, and why we were being so complacent and tolerant of the inequity we are facing as black women everyday. We have lived it, we continue to live it, and we definitely felt it in those particular moments.
We decided that we had to take action. We discussed how we would participate in the protests through what we do best: art. I have always focused on themes of African culture, Caribbean culture, and Black North American culture in my artwork. This felt like a chance to create something very purposeful for the cause. I began designing protest posters. We had them printed for our families and friends, so they could support us in spreading our message of peace, freedom, and the ending of the systematic racism that permeates every area our of society today.
First, we attended the Black Lives Matter protest in Ajax, ON on Friday June 5, 2020 and then we attended the Black Lives Matter protest in London, ON the following day. We were amazed at the number of people in our very own hometown to walk and show their solidarity and support. However, being there also brought to us memories of the racism that we had both experienced so many times growing up there.
We were fortunate enough to be able to collaborate with other artist friends (work pictured (left)) The passionate artistic energy that each of us brought translated into our work, and was the focal point of our conversations. We brainstormed how we as a collective of creatives, could use our skills and our work to continue the momentum of the movement, and positively impact our black communities.
Then came our class. And after the overwhelmingly positive feedback on our poster designs, Vanessa and I made the decision to use our class to continue to spread that message and that image. I designed the class painting using the freedom poster as it's inspiration. The focus of our class became how to mix various skin tones. Our vision was to show that we can all be free, together, and how beautiful we are when we come together as people.
Vanessa and I continue to build and develop our values as a business. We analyize what it means for us as black women. We are constantly keeping our hearts and minds on equity, and how we can use our business as a platform for positive social change. George Floyd's murder presented us with a duty to act and has reminded us that the work for "Freedom" is far from over.