KENOSHA, Wis. – Kenosha is still reeling from a police shooting that ignited riots, leading to catastrophic property damage. Now, the community is trying to heal and look forward with artists who have come from all over.
One block away from where Jacob Blake was shot residents of the Wisconsin city are determined to heal, one brush stroke at a time.
“All of the downtown area was boarded up with plywood,” said Francisco Loyola, Director of the Kenosha Creative Space. “And it was protected but it looked like a ghost town.”
The Kenosha Creative Space is a nonprofit that connects artists to the community.
Loyola put out a call to artists in an effort to begin the process of healing by turning boarded up businesses into works of art.
“Right now, we don't know exactly how many boards have been painted,” said Loyola.
What they do know is that artists have heeded the call from all over the country and even Canada to support Kenosha.
Artist and activist Roberto Marquez traveled up from Dallas. After consulting with the Blake family, he put his brush to work to depict how he sees the event that thrust the city of around 100,000 into the national spotlight.
“Some of the people, they might not like it, but that's the reality,” said Marquez. “I mean, I didn't pose a problem. I'm just, you know, painting with my brush.”
There are also students trying to make sense of what has happened in their quiet community.
“We thought that it would be the best thing to take them out of these cages that we've been calling our homes. And let them exert their energy and their passion their desire,” said Ardis L. Mahone Mosley at the Kenosha Unified School District. “We've been very unified as of recently.”
High school junior Aniyah Ervin says in a volatile time of uncertainty, this is one way to come together to mend some of the hurt.
“It's been very healing, honestly, because although we know it's not permanent, it's good to show how together we are at the moment,” said Ervin. “You know, it may all burn down again next week. We don't know. But as of now, we're all together, we're all making art. We're all making Kenosha as beautiful as we know it to be.”