During January and February 2021, we will be featuring special guest bloggers whose artwork is currently on display outside the Ohio History Center in Columbus. Their art is part of a citywide exhibit titled “Deliver Black Dreams.“Installed in late October, this exhibit uses public art as a launch point for achieving racial equity in Columbus. It features the art that covered windows around the city during protests this past summer. You can read more about the project here and view more artwork here. You can view the first post in the series here.This month we are excited to share a post from Shelbi Harris-Roseboro.
Shelbi at Dress For Success with her work, now on display at OHC.
For years I have been creating in preparation for my new series of work New Peace 2020, a self-curated artwork highlighting the need for peace starting with oneself. My series motto, “Peace Begins With Me” is represented by a symbol that was created to inspire peace and unity for everyone. It was meant for me to use my artistic voice to encourage a clearer perspective (20/20 vision) through my art. I just never imagined it this way. When Covid-19 happened, it disrupted everyone’s plans and optimism. To artists like myself, a majority of our planned income was altered and most work was canceled. Then to top it off we were all forced to watch the horrible murder of George Floyd.
It’s fair to say 2020 was a year like no other. As an african-american woman from Columbus Ohio, my experience is not unique. I am heartbroken when I think about George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and now Columbus’ own Andre Hill. I am angry and tired of seeing black people misjudged and mistreated. I am fed up with any passive ignorance toward racism in our institutions and I am scared for my son. Currently, I am home loving him, teaching and preparing him the best way I can, but I repeat, my experience is not unique. Women like myself support the cause by educating youth and supporting the communities that we live in.
The thing about art, especially art that lives in a historical lens, is that history cycles and repeats itself, and there are things that you wish were not as relevant as they are. – Hana S. Sharif
Artists are often the first voice to articulate the times. I never expected the art we created on ugly boards would become much more than just covering a window. When the protests ignited it felt necessary to be a part. Painting Black Lives Matter (BLM) boards seemed like a good way of contributing toward peaceful protesting. Several times when painting boards, I thought about the child who would read the message and their experience when going downtown during the protests. I, as an artist of color, only used this opportunity to do my part to encourage peaceful protesting and love for one another. To be honest, I don’t feel I have much to give to the topic other than my platform, my art. There were times when I asked myself do I really want to do another one? Is adding art to these boards distracting people from truly understanding the gravity of what is going on? I am well aware that messages of peace and love will not stop police brutality or the unjust killings of black people. These BLM street boards are simply the backdrops to display our harsh realities.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” Martin Luther King Jr., Strength to Love, 1963
I walk in my ancestors’ footprints spreading messages of peace and love to balance the energy in a world that seeks to divide us. Like my ancestors, I believe in a promised land and that all things can work together for the good (Romans 8:28). I was taught that we are all a part of a much bigger picture and we should lead with love in all that we do. Watching last summer’s events unfold, on top of a world pandemic, exposed the truth that we all need each other to survive. The reality is, there is still so much work to do and each of us have an important part in this. The fight for equality continues to be relevant and needed. It is obvious to me that we are finishing the work of our ancestors, and it cannot be done without Peace and Love.
“Hold only love, only peace in your heart, knowing that the battle of good to overcome evil is already won.” – John Lewis, Across That Bridge: A Vision for Change and the Future of America
I have learned to believe in something, be optimistic about it, and contribute to it. So, I believe in art and that the impact art has on the world can inspire good in all of us. It is believed that any art created with good intention is for someone. Art is the light in darkness, and creates the hope that helps shift perspectives. It falls on all of us to continue to carry the torch as an instrument of good, and use art to open our minds and embrace Peace, Love and Unity.