Spokane’s Black Lives Matter mural to share the stories of individual artists, community

SPOKANE, Wash. — Sixteen letters, three words, and one monumental movement.

A Black Lives Matter mural is taking shape in Spokane, with each letter telling a different story. Sixteen artists of color were selected by Terrain, a local arts non-profit, to make their voices heard.

“I’ve probably spent ten hours just yesterday working on it. I’d probably spend a good five to eight more hours to finish it up,” said Israel Blackwell, an artist.

It’s taken a lot of time for him to get his piece looking the way he wanted.

“To my left, to my right, I just see amazing beautiful art by other people and it inspires me to do a good job,” he told 4 News Now.

He’s spent so much time making sure each line, each stroke is right where it’s supposed to be, because the message he’s sharing through his art matters to him.

“He’s going to be holding broken chains in his hands and above his hand is going to be the word ‘knowledge,’ because I believe knowledge is power and knowledge sets you free,” he said.

The whole mural was started because of Seven2 and 14four, two digital advertising agencies. They wanted to use their building to help give a voice to the people of color in our community. Staff also donated the canvas, painting the letters to be filled in.

“There’s a lot of bad history that hopefully we can unlearn the bad stuff and hopefully be better as a community and as a nation,” said Jeff Oswalt, the president of 14four. “That’s part of being patriotic, I would say, is being willing to change and learn and unlearn the bad and be better. I’m excited that we have this opportunity to do this.”

“It feels inspirational and almost historic. It feels special to be a part of something that possibly could be much larger than yourself,” Blackwell said.

He’s talking about the movement, but the mural itself is quite big. Oswalt says the mural is 140 feet wide. Each letter is 13 feet long. It’s a canvas so big that some artists aren’t used to, but are happy to have.

Artist Remelisa Cullitan felt a little intimidated being a part of the mural.

For her piece, it’s the details that mattered.

“It’s listing out the names of the black trans women, men and non-binary folks who have been murdered, both by police and civilians,” Cullitan explained. “They really are our most vulnerable population, and it’s a very personal subject since my wife is trans. It’s just so heartbreaking.”

Terrain Cofounder, Ginger Ewing, said they chose different artists who can give them different representation.

She said she’s thankful for the owners of Seven2 and 14four to give artists a space to express themselves.

“It is moments like this. It is statements like this that are going to move the needle,” Ewing said.

Both Ewing and Oswalt said they’ve had a lot of support with the mural. People passing by stop and appreciate the artwork. Others honk in support of the artists and the movement.

“People are really taking notice and it makes you feel a little bit different,” Blackwell said.

They hope to have the mural be done by July 20.

You can find the mural at 244 West Main.

READ: New Black Lives Matter mural takes shape in downtown Spokane