Lakwena's Geometric and Text-Based Style Transforms Two Basketball Courts in Pine Bluff, Arkansas
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.