Photo Essay: Local Artists Come Together to Renew the BLM Street Mural

by Susan Fried

Artist Kimisha Turner, one of 15 artists that worked on the Black Lives Matter street mural on Pine Street, knew exactly which letter she wanted to paint when the artists picked their letters. “I knew I wanted the ‘B’ because it was the ‘b’eginning of such an important and powerful statement; ‘B’ is Black, Brown, Beautiful, Bold, Blessed, Bodacious, Brilliant …” Her letter, which is painted in vibrant, red, yellow, green, purple, and black, features an African-inspired design. “I wanted to create something that was a nod to African textiles and pride in Black culture. The mountain peak shapes represent the long road we’ve been on to justice, equality, and equity. They move forward along with the arrows to promote progression, hope for positive change, and a brighter future.”

Kimisha Turner and the other 14 artists are part of the Vivid Matter Collective. The collective had originally painted the mural in June, but it had deteriorated so much that the City and the artists had decided to remove and replace it with a new improved version. So with the help of the City, who etched the letters into the pavement, the artists returned and during the first weekend of October repainted it.

Turner credits fellow artist Takiyah Ward with organizing the group. “The other artists are amazing, and it has been a joy to work with the group! It’s been incredible seeing everyone’s talent and processes. We’ve supported each other, promoted each other, and gotten to know each other better as a result.” 

Turner said that it was a blessing to share the experience with her son and that she looked forward to reminiscing with him about creating the mural. “Black Lives Matter is a statement that we shouldn’t have to make, but because our society constantly continues to show us that our lives are less valued and expendable (in so many ways) … here we are. I only hope that by then major effective change will have been made and that we all have a better quality of life.”

Susan Fried has been a Seattle-based photojournalist for more than 20 years.

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