James Baldwin mural comments on systemic racism in the U.S.

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Art is often used to make a statement about current events. Since George Floyd’s homicide, artists have been using their medium to speak out against police brutality and racism, and demand social justice. There is a series of Black Lives Matter murals in downtown Phoenix. Antoinette Cauley has created a “mural” of author/activist James Baldwin that is on the side of a skyrise in Downtown Phoenix. The building’s owner commissioned Cauley to make a painting of Baldwin and he turned that into a nine-stories tall decal. Cauley talks about the experience of creating the painting, seeing the mural for the first time and what it means to be a Black artist during these times.

“Art has historically been something that reflects the culture and the time, and teaches us about what was going on. I think that naturally artists are inclined to paint what they feel. We’re impacted by the world and what surrounds us.”

Cauley’s mural of James Baldwin was supposed to reflect a blend of different things to affect multiple communities. Cauley believes it was supposed to pay an ode to America facing the systemic racism it has been hiding from. She included a quote of Baldwin that reflects her thoughts on how these times should be handled. Although, Cauley tells her fellow artists to “just keep going.”

Antoinette Cauley

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