TRNN Executive Producer Eddie Conway interviews Black muralist Ernest Shaw Jr. and street artist Justin Nethercut on their work in Baltimore
EDDIE CONWAY, PRODUCER, TRNN: I’m Eddie Conway. I’m here for the Real News, getting ready to talk to two of the city’s finest artists. I’m going to talk to [Justin] and Ernest. In our background is some work that Ernest have done, Justin have done, the Freddie Gray mural down in the Gilmor Homes area. We have interviewed him before. But I just want to do a followup and find out, what is this about? Why did you do that? ERNEST SHAW, JR., ARTIST: I would first like to say it’s a collaboration. My concept, I was also trained in some of the newer techniques of mural painting by Gaia, who’s also very well known. Here in Baltimore, and actually nationally. And even internationally. But he trained me back in May 2014 on how to use spraypaint, using a lift instead of scaffolding. And his name is on the wall also with my name. But this was a mural that Open Walls 2, which was a Station North project curated by Gaia, and the owner of the house, JC [Falk] volunteered his wall because he felt that–there are a lot of fabulous walls in this neighborhood. But he felt that he hadn’t seen any black muralists painting any walls. So he volunteered his wall. I was contacted by Gaia and we met, and we discussed subject matter. CONWAY: Now for people who don’t know, who is that? SHAW: Okay. These are three people that strongly influenced my work and my life. Malcolm X, to the left, James Baldwin, to the right, and Nina Simone. And what makes them extremely significant to me was that throughout different decades of my life I was strongly influenced by, in 20s it was Malcolm X, 30s James Baldwin. And in my 40s now, is a resurgence of Nina Simone. So part of our goal is to project or create certain images to help elevate the collective consciousness of our society in a positive way. Especially with the project that’s going on in Sandtown now. CONWAY: Yeah. You went down there, and frankly when I first went past and saw you down there by yourself I was a little concerned. You know, one white guy out in the middle of the projects. And Freddie Gray had just gotten beaten brutally by three white police. And there you were up on the wall on a scaffold doing what you were doing, and a crowd of people were standing around there and I was like, are they gonna get him? I mean, how did you feel? And why did you decide to go down there? JUSTIN NETHERCUT, ARTIST: It was the type of thing that, this was an issue that I’ve done a lot of work about and just really, I really care deeply about just seeing all this police brutality in this city that’s been going on for not just since Ferguson, this goes deep. And I initially just kind of became interested in using street art as a form of civil disobedience. And then using the power of street art which is, you know, essentially just me and a roller and a ladder, and a small amount of paint going in there and creating an outcry, creating solidarity for those that need it. And that’s all for a very small amount of money that that can be done. CONWAY: Well, we’re going to be back again to talk to y’all, because I understand y’all are going to do some work for the Real News in the very near future. And so we’re going to see if we can’t work on that project. And thank you. SPEAKER: Thanks for having us. CONWAY: All right. And thank you for joining the Real News.
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