On the day of, Matt parked Bessie, his trusted 1985 Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia Weekender, in front of the Vivid Matter Collective’s pop-up shop and set up shop on the sidewalk. Luckily, a kind stranger let us run our extension cord to the nearby building to power the lighting.
As the collective’s artists trickled in, the group grew — and so did the energy.
“It’s great to all be together,” said Kimisha Turner, who was there with her son Malcolm, who had helped her paint the “B” a year ago. Except for the moment he posed with her in front of the camera, he chatted with the collective’s members about his favorite superheroes (and SpongeBob). Around him, conversations turned, inevitably, to art and the many projects the artists were involved in. For many of the members, it was the first time seeing each other in person this year, and the excitement about this story, a year after the group’s formation, ran like a current through the group.
“It was amazing,” McKnight told me recently. “Once everybody was gathered in that area, I felt like I was in the middle of a reunion.”
Still, a year after the mural’s creation, emotions were raw and mixed. “It’s bleak,” Takiyah Ward told me — we were talking just a few weeks after another spate of media reports of high profile police killings — but, she added: “I’m still proud and happy to have created something like this together.”
Later, after everyone had looked into McKnight’s lens, the group accordioned onto the bench in front of their pop-up shop, flashing “V” signs (Victory, Vivid Matter) or smiling behind their masks, as they asked us to photograph them once more. This time, it was with their phones, not our professional gear — and not as reporters, but as bystanders recording a moment of behind-the-scenes joy.
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