Windows GR is a public activation project intended to share stories of local Black artists by painting the boarded up business in downtown Grand Rapids. The project was started in a matter of 2 days by Jasmine Bruce, Hannah Berry (owner of Lions and Rabbits Gallery) and people of color artist leads Guillermo Sotelo, Asia Horne, Kendall Redmon, Adrian Butler, Leandro Lara and Erik Lauchie. Downtown Grand Rapids also incorporated in helping to fund this project.
The intention of this project is to give a space for Black voices and stories to be heard. They intend in no way to cover or conceal the issues regarding the oppression of Black and minority communities, and they directly have addressed the issues of police brutality. Through artwork, they are able to use these paintings as a vehicle for dynamic conversation and change while also putting money in the pockets of every artist’s painting. They have gotten an incredible response from the community and the Windows GR team plans to move forward with this project to continue to fill more windows, hold an event with all of the art pieces and help the artists sell their work. These details are yet to be fully released. Any question regarding the project can be directed toward firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is important to note this project was not developed with ease. Several businesses and buildings have decided to remain neutral, regulating what they put on their windows — in some instances, even painting over artwork referencing Black Lives Matter imagery. Painters have encountered racial slurs from bystanders with words like “these Blacks need to go.” It’s been heartbreaking for their team, the artists, and the community to see this. But, it uncovers a system of oppression and hate, which is deeply rooted in Grand Rapids. They will not be silent, and they will not be pushed down any longer. They intend to raise Black voices in the community through art and love.