Community members and artists create art for resistance at local event

Local Kalamazoo artists and community members gathered at Heritage Hall on WMU's campus to create art. 

Maya James

Maya James is a local artist and activist in the Kalamazoo Community. She planned the Art for Resistance event. 

"I am just kind of going free form right now. What I wanted to do was make sure that everybody could just go and create the stuff they wanted to create, not give anyone a platform or say it has to be a certain thing, just give space for Black artists to just make stuff. 

I think that art has a power and a resistance in this community. I mean yesterday we were restoring the mural. That was a whole thing with the conversations behind it and how it brought people together: the things that it brought to the table and the conversations that it brought to the table. So, I wanted to make an event where everyone could just come and free-create stuff and not be worried about how to express themselves or how to create social change." - Maya James

Maya James paints at local event

Nicole Lee

Nicole is a local Kalamazoo artist that works in a supportive role for medical offices by day. Nicole is currently finishing up her bachelor's and will soon be pursuing her master's in art therapy.

"This is just a woman, maybe early 20's or so. I often hear a lot of, people in our community say (black women) are not valued, not respected not appreciated. So I just kind of wanted to, instead of looking at it on that end where you have a lot of those negative terms, I just wanted to put: I am strong, I am a mother, I'm a daughter, I'm your aunt, I'm your sister, I love the same.  Just positive quotes around the silhouette of this person. 

I didn't want to personalize it too much. I feel like without features it kind of speaks to everyone." - Nicole Lee

Nicole Lee paints at a local event
Nicole Lee finished painting

Alexander Ladd

Alexander Ladd is a local Kalamazoo artist.

"I haven't given this a name yet, I'm just painting. Painting works better when I don't have to think. So I like just coming out here and expressing myself. 

I was going for something just cosmic, I didn't really have a general idea or format, I just wanted to use these colors and I wasn't really sure how. I put them all there; that is what I do with all of my pieces.

I think events like this are awesome and I think we don't have enough of it." - Alexander Ladd

Alexander Ladd paints at local event

Gerald King

Gerald King is an artist in every sense of the word. He does everything from murals, to animation, to portrait work.

"What I'm working on today is a character I made up called Struggles the Bear. This is on the mural that I did in Battle Creek on the wall there. A lot of people liked it, it got a big response on social media, so I did it again. 

The company, "Color the Creek," is a company in Battle Creek; we go around doing murals and everything.  They texted me and asked me to do a piece for a wall up there, and I really didn't have a design. So I kind of googled Grumpy the Bear, from the Care Bears. I kind of liked that he had a little bit of an attitude so I gave him a makeover, gave him some different colors and stuff, and made him my own. 

I wanted something lighthearted to go with the Black Lives Matter movement, something that kids could respond to and adults." - Gerald King

Gerald King paints at local event
Gerald King paints Struggles the Bear

Darien Burress

Darien Burress is an art major at WMU and works at Fire Historical Arts and Culture Collaborative.

"Coming into the event, Maya just was allowing us the space to do whatever it is we want to do, so for me I am always going to represent the Black woman. So I'm just doing some pallet painting mostly of a silhouette of a women with an Afro, and some sunflowers. Sunflowers are my favorite flower and I think yellow is the most beautiful color with melanated skin. I love dark skin and yellow; it is just a beautiful combination." - Darien Burress

Darien Burress paints at local event