London based contemporary artist Lakwena ​brings her ​vibrant geometric colors and inspiring text-based work to the city of ​Pine Bluff for ​ARkanvas​: ​an Arkansas statewide engagement bringing art experiences by world-renowned artists to Arkansas, and fostering community through a shared appreciation of culture and nature across The Natural State.

Invited by women-led global curator group ​Justkids and Arkansas organization ​OZ Art​, Lakwena created a site-specific public art intervention under the theme “Unite” transforming Martin Luther King Jr. Park’s public basketball courts with a large-scale mural porting a powerful message. With a rhythmic approach to color and patterns Lakwena’s stunning composition is lined with playful ​elements of basketball expressions ​such as “see me shoot”, “make it rain”, and, at the center, an empowering life-affirming message: “bury me down / still I rise” and “watch me flower”, calling reference to the life and work of the great American poet and Arkansas resident Maya Angelou, included her iconic poem “Still I Rise”, bringing a timely dynamic message of hope and pride.

This is not Lakwena’s first public artwork in Arkansas. In 2017 the artist created a 360o mural within the courtyard of Sebastian County’s Juvenile Detention Center in Fort Smith for the art event Unexpected also curated by Justkids seeking to inspire youth to overcome — or rise above — their circumstances. About developing the site-specific piece Lakwena expressed: “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. 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.”

ARkanvas is a statewide engagement curated by Justkids and commissioned by OZ Art in partnership with Unexpected.