Columbus Artists Amplify the Message of Black Lives Matter
This summer has seen Downtown Columbus transform into an outdoor art gallery. Dozens of murals adorn plywood, walls and sidewalks on nearly every block of our busiest thoroughfares, rainbow hues splashed across otherwise ordinary spaces.
A community of individuals conducting activism through art is behind this colorful scene.
As the Black Lives Matter protests spread from the heart of Columbus into neighboring communities, local artists have collaborated to amplify the message of the movement. By early June, an estimated 100 pieces of art adorned the city.
Among these artists is Hakim Callwood, a Columbus native who is using his talent and point of view to encourage an important conversation.
“I’m about spreading love,” said Hakim, whom several Columbus businesses and organizations have commissioned to paint Black Lives Matter murals on their walls. “(Lately), I’ve been creating fun, colorful work that’s not about a fun, colorful subject. It’s a chill way to start these kinds of conversations.”
Inspired by Marvel Comics as a kid, Hakim began training in the fine arts while attending high school at Columbus Alternative School. Since honing his skills in courses at Columbus College of Art & Design, Callwood has made a name for himself as a versatile artist, animator and teacher in Columbus.
In support of the Black Lives Matter movement, CoverMyMeds asked Hakim to paint a mural for our wallscape, located just outside Downtown Columbus, near the site of our future campus. As a company, we stand with the Black community and commit to using our voice to support the end of racial injustice through our action in the community and within our four walls. Moving forward, our intention is to continue using the 50-foot by 100-foot wallscape to feature messages that support our community and our employees. (Read about another wallscape artist here.)
This summer, Hakim was also commissioned by The Ohio State University to create a Black Lives Matter mural in the University District, and Columbus Crew SC, who asked him to paint a soccer-themed Black Lives Matter mural in the Short North Arts District. (As for Hakim’s favorite piece of the last couple of months, that’d be his mural stating, “I don’t know you, but I love you,” which covered the facade of Anthropologie’s High Street location.)
“To be honest, it’s been much harder to make art (lately). I’m dead-set on making sure I send the right message and in the right way,” Hakim said. “My process has involved a lot more thought, so that I’m putting out a message that’s true to myself and to the community. I do feel a responsibility to get it right in this moment.”
As an artist well-versed in graffiti, Hakim is accustomed to seeing his art disappear over time. But the murals created to honor Black Lives Matter will likely live on as part of Columbus’ permanent art collection. The Greater Columbus Arts Council has plans to preserve and exhibit this work in the future, and the work CoverMyMeds commissioned from Hakim will be on permanent display at our Franklinton campus when our doors open next year.
Art is not passive — the messages on these walls are as important as what’s chanted in the street or what’s delivered on the statehouse floor. To learn more about how public art unites us, visit #ArtUnitesCbus.