in the city of pine bluff, arkansas, lakwena has brought an inspiring text-based work under the theme ‘unite’, transforming martin luther king jr. park’s public basketball courts with a large-scale mural defined by its vibrant geometric colors and powerful message. with a rhythmic approach to color and pattern, lakwena — an artist of british and ugandan heritage born and based in london — employs words, and acid-bright hues to respond to elements of popular culture and mass communication. the site-specific public art intervention in pine bluff is lined with playful nods to basketball, including expressions such as ‘make it rain’. at the center, an empowering message — ‘push me down / and still I rise’ and ‘watch me flower’, referencing the life and work of great american poet and arkansas resident maya angelou.
invited by women-led global curator group justkids and OZ art, lakwena’s installation forms part of arkanvas: an engagement bringing art experiences by world-renowned artists to the state, and fostering community through a shared appreciation of culture and nature. ‘I was really excited to work in a place with a largely black demographic,’ lakwena says of the project. ‘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.’