Mural painted outside Shabazz High School, Madison, WI. 20' x 12'. Design by Simone Lawrence. Paint collaboration with Dane Arts Mural Arts and Shabazz High School Students. 2022.
Mural on the side of Neuhauser Pharmacy, Madison, WI. 32' x 8'. Designed and painted by Simone Lawrence. Commissioned by Monroe Street Anti-Racism Project (MoSAP). 2021.
Are your intentions (in)directly blocking the pathway for systemic change? Is your allyship helping or harming the cause? The motive behind this mural is for folx to question whether their actions are backed by an authentic commitment to the fight against injustice via continuous education, self-interrogation, empathy, humility, understanding, and advocacy. The fight is not conditional, convenient, savioristic, apolitical, or self-promoting. It must be an unequivocal and daily life path that rectifies the relentlessness and ubiquity of injustice. The fight also has to exist in solidarity with marginalized folx whose voices must be heard, and who need not stand in complicity, but rather rework the system from within or unplug the machine all together.
- Simone Lawrence
Mural in foyer of Briarpatch Youth Services, Madison, WI. 10' x 8'. Designed and painted by Simone Lawrence. Dedicated to the youth we serve. 2021.
A series of 5 zines on systems of inequality. All centerfolds designed by Simone Lawrence. All proceeds sent to Urban Triage. Commissioned by Underbelly. 2020.
The span of these zines provide a peek behind the curtain of American systemic racism and they shed light on centuries-old demands of the people. The accompaniment of the art centerfolds is to bring life and humanity to the fight - the exhaustion of everyday Black and Brown folk since chattel slavery, the vast variety of protests and callouts, the undying resilience and actualization of new realities. Resistance is highlighted in a stark, gut-wrenching way; and most easily recognizable through the contrasting color red against a black and white pallet.
Each centerfold features a photograph incorporating the modern (sometimes local) reality of the zine topic at play. And each photograph features a self-made acrylic painting meant to spark inspiration, discomfort, imagination, and conversation through personal interpretations of past or present systemic events in history. Without giving away all the answers, taken together, the photography and the paintings should provide a rich analysis of the answer to the question “What if?” The piece should also provide a foundation for the various platforms of the personal and political fight for change.
The zines tell a story in their own right as follows: (1) The system of police brutality demands community control - the photographs that make up the core of the background (credit to Kenechi Unachukwu) force a deeper look into the emotions, the anger behind the downtown Madison protests for George Floyd’s unconscionable death. What if the concept of defunding the police was as obvious as the extinction of “slave catchers?” (2) What if the overt obstinance and resistance against Jim Crow laws were more palatable during that time? What if the fight for educational equality was more overt to this day in the state ranked worse for Black students’ education? (3) On that same vein, redlining and gentrification as we see them today has caused an exponential generational wealth gap amongst Black Americans. What message would be received from our radical resistance to defund the capital and refund the people, and how might that impact our ability to function as a collective? (4) Criminalizing and funding prison systems continues to hold our Black and Brown people hostage. What if call-out culture could be used to defund the 1% and abolish prisons? (5) To this day, skepticism floods the Black community as it relates to our medical and mental health systems. As a result of years of unethical practices swept under the rug, what if white men were stripped of their American dignity with one plunge of a syringe?
- Simone Lawrence
Mural in front of Driftless Studio, State St., Madison, WI. 10' x 8'. Designed and painted by Simone Lawrence. * Commissioned by City of Madison. Featured in the book Let's Talk About It. 2020.
*One mural within a massive public art movement in conjunction with the protests of the George Floyd killing and uprisings.
As artists, we hold transformative power at the tip of our brushes. With every brush stroke, we can weave together new fibers of thought and create a new world. We have the power to imagine a story no one has seen before — paint a future that allows others who have the privilege of leadership to implement political change on a structural level. During a time when our political climate is at its most fiery, we need transformative action to promote equity and justice. Collectively, our murals inspired this action.
With this thought at my forefront, I created a mural initially designed with three leaders of change in mind — Colin Kaepernick, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X. All three leaders had the courage to take a stance for justice in their own right and in their own way. Resistance comes in all flavors. As people set their eyes on my piece, I want them to imagine new ways to fight the system as we continue to take inspiration and strength from our past. What methods of resistance have we yet to explore? Because every ounce of possibility or undiscovered truth is needed to dismantle this system.
- Simone Lawrence
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