Windows GR

On May 30th, 2020, a peaceful protest in support of Black Lives Matter was held in downtown Grand Rapids in response to the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer on May 25th, 2020. Following the protest riots broke out, causing damage to vehicles and buildings. The next day, many members of the Grand Rapids community showed up to clean up the damage from the riot, including businesses which covered broken windows with plywood until they could be replaced. Seeing the temporary windows as blank canvases, graffiti writer Guillermo Sotelo reached out to Hannah Berry of Lions and Rabbits Center for the Arts to see if there was a chance that he and fellow artists could paint them. Berry acted as a powerful catalyst, enlisting the partnerships and support of local property managers to get clearance to proceed. The project, known as “Windows GR”, brought together a special group of creatives (Guillermo Soleto, Leandro Lara, Jasmine Bruce, Asia Horne, Adrian Butler, and Kendall Redmond) as artist liaisons to lead the initiative. Together, the group understood the importance of being intentional with art during a time of unrest to bring change, shifting the project beyond a call to artists to paint into a way to speak out against systemic racism as well as provide a new platform for Black and Brown artists' work to be seen and appreciated. The group formed a new artist collective called Element 7 and is continuing their work at the intersection of art and community. The Grand Rapids Public Museum purchased these three pieces from Element 7 as a way to document and preserve this ongoing part of our community story.