Over the past several weeks, a lot has been written about the art that has been written about the art painted on privately owned buildings downtown in the last two years. Much of it has been in this newspaper. And a whole lot more has apparently been on Facebook.
First, a lot has been said about the name of one of the Columbian artists, Lik Mi. It is apparently a common belief that you can apply English phonetics to a Spanish name. Her real name is Likmi Soberana. I think we could just as easily translate that into “Like Me” instead of something obscene.
Secondly, I have heard from a number of people that the art was not about Clarksdale. I am not even sure what that means but when I look at one of the works I think it speaks to Clarksdale, about Clarksdale, and for Clarksdale. The portrait on the side of the old JC Penney building of Jasmine Jackson by Columbian DJ Luis part of an international series called “Street Heroes.” He paints people from around the world who would normally not get a lot of attention. People I suspect are a lot like me and you and Clarksdale. Ms. Jackson is a Clarksdale native, and a single mother, who works at McDonalds. I do not know here but I project into her story a life struggle and hardship but also joy and happiness. For, surely, it is hard to raise children and make ends meet while working at McDonalds. But, it’s probably joyful to be a parent, a daughter, sister, and a friend. She is part of a community that, like her, struggles to make itself better. It’s had to be Clarksdale. But it’s also great to be a place so full of music, art and opportunities.
In the future, I hope that we can talk to each other more and at each other less. There will be more artists coming to paint from more places: as well as local artist that are yearning to contribute. Each of them will interpret what they see and experience here in Clarksdale and leave a little of themselves behind for us to enjoy, ponder, and sometimes dislike. That’s what art is supposed to do. Make us think.
See, it’s already working,