The Fight for Liberty and Justice

By Brenden Spivey, Wil Wong Yee, and Laurie Clements

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 Brenden Spivey, Wil Wong Yee, and Laurie Clements, who worked together on one large artwork.

Brenden Spivey

Liberty and Justice for most, but not us.  Those that look like me are being targeted by hate solely based on the color of our skin.  What has transpired today January 6th is an example of the injustices black Americans experience.  This is not a perceived “double standard” ; this is a clear cut example of what can and cannot be done by those who look like me.

Lady Liberty:

A broken shackle and chain rest at her feet as she steps forward, paying homage to the national abolition of slavery.  Yet 135 years later we still aren’t free.

Lady Liberty who is to be our symbol of freedom and democracy has fallen from her point.  She’s been fighting for freedom and democracy and feels hopeless so she sat down to rest and recover from the pepper spray. Luckily the young black boy is there to help cleanse her eyes with milk while the young black girl sets the dove free using the torch of lady liberty to represent love and peace.

Lady Justice:

She may be blindfolded but she’s not blind.  She knows that there is no justice. She symbolizes fair and equal administration of the law, without corruption, favor, greed, or prejudice.  She wants to represent us equally so she went to protest for fairness but was also attacked by pepper spray.  The sword which represents punishment is missing which to me signifies there is not punishment for those who are committing crimes of hate.

Wil Wong Yee

This opportunity allowed me and the rest of my group to have our voices were seen and heard through art. The design of the mural took on multiple meanings for myself as well as the members of the group.
We all witness the lack of justice for people of color so naturally, Lady Justice was chosen as the focal point. In the mural, she is protesting and as a result of protesting police brutality, she is tear gassed. Lady Justice historically represents the moral forces of the judicial system. Her portrayal in this mural is representative of the lack of justice provided for people of color.
The children represent our futures and perseverance in upholding the commitment to racial equality and racial equity.
The final gasp for air is breaking the glass and releasing  the emergency dove to call out for the peace we need.

Laurie Clements

Although we are three individual artist with very different styles, our hearts spoke as one. In addition, we are very different; white, black, Chinese American, male, female, younger,older. This was not on my mind when I asked these two artist to join me but in retrospect, I think we got a few “reviews” from spectators which made it all the better in where are hearts were leading us. All three of us had a very deep heartfelt experience.

I think I saw the first airing of the murder on CBS this Morning when Gale King reported. It was simply gut wrenching and unbelievable to see this happening. I felt sick watching. The following Saturday, after a night of destructive protests in our city, I got an email from a friend associated with The Ohio Theatre asking if I was interested in doing a mural. It was late at night and my husband and I were with friends and one said “you have no business going down there.” Of course, he was concerned about my safety and I really did not have a clue what to expect myself. I believe my heart was driven by seeing that murder in addition to the incident with the woman Central Park  accusing the bird watcher. There was no question that I was NOT going to do something.

The doing “something” is the question/ action of the moment that so many of us are struggling with as in “what can I do to make this better and progress forward.” Pretty daunting in my mind to say the least. As an artist, we understand that visuals stick, like the video of George’s murder. Personally, I prefer hope and the story behind the visual and where it may take a person’s brain and heart. Each artist has their own voice in this expression.

Museums and galleries have a very important place but exterior murals reach so many more that may not think of going into a gallery or museum. Honestly, the reach of these murals has been eye opening to me. I am so proud to have been able to do my something.


Brenden Spivey is an emerging artist in the Columbus art scene. After spending time in and out of galleries and seeing many private collections of Columbus art collectors he became curious about the process and why he felt so connected to the art work he is seeing.

Upon returning home after several weeks in Europe on a business trip Brenden decided to go to his local art supply store and purchase canvas and professional grade paints and brushes. He was instantly drawn to the process and the meditative state that would engulf him.

From this story you can gather that Brenden didn’t acquire formal training in painting, therefore he is known as an “Outsider Artist”.

Brenden began experimenting with brushes and pallet knives and while the pieces he created had great color they didn’t represent Brenden’s overall artistic vision. He began to do work with fluid paint pouring and found his voice as an artist. A few months after his art journey he was picked up by a local art gallery where he continues to be represented today.

Learn more about Wil Wong Yee here.

Learn more about Laurie Clements here.

Posted February 22, 2021
Topics: Presidents & PoliticsHistoric PreservationAfrican American History

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