Tucked into the verdant landscape of Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, are two dramatically altered basketball courts primed for play. Commissioned by the women-led curators of Justkids (previously) and OZ Art, the public project was conceived by London-based artist Lakwena, who transformed the outdoor spot into a lively area with her trademark typographic murals.
Basketball jargon covers the patterned court with an arched “Make it rain” demarcating the three-point lines. Creating under a larger theme of unity, Lakwena also referenced iconic poet Maya Angelou, who lived in the state throughout her life. “Bury me down / still I rise” lines the perimeter of the court, with Lakwena’s title of the work, “I’ll bring you flowers,” spelled out on multi-color petals at the center circle.
This community-centered project is the artist’s second in Arkansas and follows a 2017 work at Sebastian County’s Juvenile Detention Center in Fort Smith. Lakwena writes that “I’ll bring you flowers” is an extension of that piece as it looks “at growth and blessing in spite of adversity.” She expands on the idea:
I was really excited to work in a place with a largely Black demographic. It was nice to make an artwork for people that I have a connection to in that respect, especially at what feels like a very significant time for the Black community. The piece is called “I’ll bring you flowers.” Flowers are often used as a way of greeting, paying respect and honor people, and I wanted to honor the community in Pine Bluff.