GALLIPOLIS — This week, the Artisan Shoppe in Gallipolis launched a mural project in collaboration with Black Lives Matter Southeastern Ohio.
“In this much needed time of cultural change, art can help unite and engage those in our community to start and continue the conversations of equality, inclusivity, and respect,” Kelsey Kerr, the Artisan Shoppe director, said.
The Artisan Shoppe is a non-profit arts and educational organization based in Gallipolis. It offers an open studio for professional local artists to work and teach and sells work made by local artisans.
Through the mural, the organization hopes to engage with recent discussions on race that ignited after the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis on Memorial Day. In a now-viral video, Derek Chauvin, a former police officer, is seen pressing his knee to Floyd’s neck while Floyd says he cannot breathe. Since then, protests against police brutality have taken place across the country. Chauvin has since been charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter.
“After initially wanting to launch this event, we joined forces with the heads of the ‘Black Lives Matter of Southeastern Ohio’ group to be able to more widely promote it and get more engagement,” Kerr said.
Though it shares part of its name, Black Lives Matter Southeastern Ohio is not affiliated with the national Black Lives Matter organization, said Clarissa Carroll, a spokesperson for the group. According to Carroll, Black Lives Matter Southeastern Ohio is focused on “community engagement in regards to racial diversity and sensitivity.”
The mural project is located at the Artisan Shoppe at 749 Third Avenue, Gallipolis.
“We are launching this project July 1st-3rd from 1 p.m. – 6 p.m. each day,” Kerr said. “This is just the start of this project and the first allotted ‘work days’ that we have so far. We are planning on having more work days for this mural project at our location as well as partnering with Black Lives Matter of Southeastern Ohio to bring more mural projects at different locations in the area.”
The mural is not the first justice-themed discussion to happen in Gallipolis lately. In June, two peaceful protests were held in Gallipolis, as well as a justice-themed prayer event.
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Sharla Moody is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing from Gallipolis, Ohio. She is a graduate of River Valley High School and currently attends Yale University.