16 artists create Black Lives Matter murals in Battle Creek

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — Black Lives Matter murals in Battle Creek are giving new life to a wall many people previously considered an eyesore.

Artists painted 10 murals side by side along Riverside Drive near East Dickman Road last weekend, with some detail work and touchups finished this week.

The wall is on a vacant lot that was the sight of an apartment complex destroyed by fire.

Sixteen artists were commissioned by the public arts initiative Color the Creek. Founder Justin Andert said organizing the art took just 10 days, though it normally would take two months for the group to plan a project of this size.

“We knew that we needed a lot of artists and so it turned out that it ended up being 16 different artists from Battle Creek mainly and then a couple regional artists from Grand Rapids and Detroit as well,” Andert said.

Mural artist Vania Word spent Saturday painting her section of the Black Lives Matter mural.

“I wanted specific colors and I wanted the message to be the revolution starts now,” Word said.

She said she wants people to enjoy the work for many years to come.

“If it’s just a message and you know when you’re passing on the highway that you see it, that’s amazing,” Word said.

Battle Creek artist Jaziel Pugh is professional who has painted many murals and decided to take a different approach.

“I was just letting it come to me and I was just going with the flow and just trusting my intuition and it just worked out,” Pugh said.

Pugh painted an Air Jordan 1 shoe, which was banned from use in the NBA because it was considered too colorful at the time.

  • Battle Creek artists have created a new Black Lives Matter mural along Riverside Drive. (June 24, 2020)
  • Battle Creek artists have created a new Black Lives Matter mural along Riverside Drive. (June 24, 2020)
  • Battle Creek artists have created a new Black Lives Matter mural along Riverside Drive. (June 24, 2020)

He said even a simple mural can make an impact.

“Just like how positive people still are and like how art can just spark a conversation and just change something. I mean, it might not change everything but just a little bit every day, that’s how things change,” Pugh said.

The artists hope the project can bring people together to make change.

“With everything going on right now, it’s hard to see clearly and things of that nature, but to have so many black artists working together to create something beautiful, that is unheard of. Like it’s beautiful and it’s really impactful. It’s a statement,” Word said.