With his mother as a graphic designer, Deondre Linder believes creating art is in his bloodline.
“I grew up around [art] and decided, ‘why not give it a shot?’” Linder, a sophomore graphic and interactive design major said.
This summer, Linder designed two murals for his hometown Utica, New York, which were inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement Utica’s diversity, he said.
Linder’s murals add to a growing list of those inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement like the ‘George Floyd’ mural outside Cup Foods in Minneapolis, CNN reported.
Another is the ‘Crown’ mural on the Municipal Services Building in Philadelphia, which was inspired by the struggles of the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter, Billy Penn reported.
Linder worked with Sophie Mandia, a sophomore at New Hartford Senior High on a Black Lives Matter mural commissioned by the city of Utica.
The Black Lives Matter mural, located in Kemble Park in Utica, New York, highlighted the citys’ diverse community by showcasing images of famous Black leaders like Muhammad Ali and Barack Obama with his quote “we are the change that we seek.”
Marques Phillips, director of community initiatives in Utica, also worked on the Black Lives Matter mural and saw it as essential to the community.
After completing the Black Lives Matter mural, Utica residents wrote and drew pictures on the mural that showed their support to the movement, Linder said.
“Although the message is saying that Black lives matter, it is essential that the whole community is uplifting that message regardless of their background,” Phillips said.
Joshuwa Mckinsey, a senior at Mohawk Valley Community College, worked as an artist on the mural and saw it as an essential form of expression.
“I see it as a means of bringing the community together but also giving them a voice and a means to express,” said Mckinsey. “Honestly, it goes to show the power that art has to bring out the voice in people and share a story.”
Each artist brought something different to the mural with their distinct styles and collaborated and made something for the community, Phillips said.
The Berkshire Bank and the United Way of the Mohawk Valley team commissioned Linder to create a different mural that was a recreation of the bank logo that incorporated the LGBTQ flag colors and inspirational phrases.
Berkshire Bank and the United Way of Mohawk Valley team wanted to highlight the importance of inclusion and teamwork in the community, allowing Linder to showcase his distinct style in the mural, Linder said.
“My style is very geometric, and I added geometric bursts to it, which really showcased my style,” said Linder.
Being able to have the community engage with the art Linder helped create is heartwarming for him, Linder said.
“It’s like putting my footprint down pretty much,” said Linder. “It feels like I’m saying, “I’m here. I’m half Black and just trying to make a change.”