London-based contemporary artist Lakwena recently unveiled a massive text-based work in the city of Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Situated across the flooring of the city’s Martin Luther King Jr. Park’s public basketball courts, the colorful site-specific work features the artist’s colorful geometric motifs and patterns alongside playful elements of basketball-related expressions such as “see me shoot,” “make it rain,” and, at the center, an empowering message gleaned from the iconic poem, “Still I Rise,” by American poet and Arkansas resident Maya Angelou: “bury me down / still I rise” and “watch me flower.”
“This project in Pine Bluff was a chance to pick up from where I left off with that design in Fort Smith with Justkids in 2017. This piece continues on that trajectory of looking at growth and blessing in spite of adversity,” said the artist in a statement. “I was really excited to work in a place with a largely black demographic. It was nice to make an artwork for people that I have a connection to in that respect, especially at what feels like a very significant time for the black community. The piece is called “I’ll bring you flowers”, flowers are often used as a way of greeting, paying respect, and honor people, and I wanted to honor the community in Pine Bluff.”
The work was commissioned by the women-led global curator group Justkids and Arkansas organization OZ Art as part of a program that invites artists to create works under the theme “Unite.” Get a closer look at the work in the slideshow above.