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Artists paint Black Lives Matter murals in Battle Creek

Sisters Jaeda Nichols, 11, and J'nyah Nichols, 10, pose by their favorite mural, painted by Jamari Taylor, from the Color the Creek's Black Lives Matter project on Sunday, June 21, 2020, in Battle Creek, Mich. (Alyssa Keown/The Battle Creek Enquirer via AP)

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (AP) — A festival in southwest Michigan has organized a Black Lives Matter mural project to ignite the community’s creative spirit in support of social justice.
Color the Creek, Michigan’s First Street Art Festival since 2016, is an event in Battle Creek capped with day-long live mural painting, live screen-printing, DJs, and local vendors.
Amid nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed Black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis, Color the Creek festival founder Justin Andert wanted to give a space for artists to elevate their calls for social justice.
Local and regional artists gathered over the weekend to create 10 large-scale murals that included portraits, words and abstract patterns, according to the Battle Creek Enquirer.
At the edge of the wall are the names of Black individuals whose lives were taken prematurely, under the phrase “say their names.”
“Artwork is a great way to create visibility and representation for folks,” said Justin Andert, Color the Creek festival founder. “It’s really to create that connection for people as they’re going about the community, to see things they can relate to, or to recognize things that are happening in the world.”
Andert and his team brought the Black Lives Mater project to life in only 10 days; he usually spends six months preparing for the festival.
Vania Word, a Battle Creek native, says she was “ecstatic” when Andert asked her to contribute a piece to the wall.
“The Black Lives Matter movement is extremely important, it’s something that is at the forefront of everyone’s lives right now, and being a Black artist, why not?” Word said.
Other artists who contributed to the wall are Jamari Taylor, Teaira Gray, Mariah Compton, Tylan Davis, Jaziel Pugh, Gerald King, Art Solis, Branden Redmond, Elisha Hodge, Wren Herring, Tailored Truth, Sintex and Jars.