ASU’s James Baldwin mural aims to reclaim stereotypes

GLENDALE–Last week, the Arizona State University Black Student Union held a community mural painting on the ASU West Campus for Black History Month, inviting community members to contribute to a painting of writer James Baldwin. Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript “Remember this House” is the basis for the Oscar-nominated documentary on racism, “I Am Not Your Negro.”

Community members were invited to help paint the mural and add statements that “disrupt discriminatory stereotypes,” according to the project’s website. More than 50 people contributed to the painting over three live-painting days last week, said Kyra Trent, an ASU student and the project’s lead artist. In February 2016, Trent led a community mural painting of Michael Brown called “Still I Rise.” This mural is displayed in the West Campus library.

“I think having the opportunity to reclaim your identity and tell people who you are kind of empowers the students and faculty members to be proud of themselves, and allows other people to see them how they see themselves,” Trent said.

Cronkite News tracked the completion of the mural in photos:

Lead artist Kyra Trent begins sketching out the details of James Baldwin's portrait. (Photo by Josh Orcutt/Cronkite News)

Lead artist Kyra Trent begins sketching out the details of James Baldwin’s portrait. (Photo by Josh Orcutt/Cronkite News)

People were invited to write “I am…” statements, aimed at reclaiming stereotypes. (Photo courtesy of Kyra Trent)

People were invited to write “I am…” statements, aimed at reclaiming stereotypes. (Photo courtesy of Kyra Trent)

Trent said over 50 people contributed painting time and statements to the mural over the three painting days. (hoto by Hussein Mohamed courtesy of Kyra Trent)

Trent said more than 50 people contributed painting time and statements to the mural over the three painting days. (Photo by Hussein Mohamed courtesy of Kyra Trent)

Volunteers help Trent put the finishing touches on the mural on the last live-painting day. (Photo by Jared McDonald/Cronkite News)

Volunteers help Trent put the finishing touches on the mural on the last live-painting day. (Photo by Jared McDonald/Cronkite News)

The portrait of James Baldwin is surrounded by volunteers' statements of empowerment. (Photo by Jared McDonald/Cronkite News)

The portrait of James Baldwin is surrounded by volunteers’ statements of empowerment. (Photo by Jared McDonald/Cronkite News)

The finished mural will be unveiled at a spoken word event on Feb. 22 at ASU's Artspace West. (Photo by Kyra Trent)

The finished mural will be unveiled at a spoken word event on Feb. 22 at ASU’s Artspace West. (Photo courtesy of Kyra Trent)