As I drive up to this abandoned warehouse, I immediately ask myself, “am I at the right location?” I empty out of the car, walk up to the entrance, and see the sign that reads, “Studio Be”. The lights are dimmed with only spotlights hanging from the ceiling to showcase the art. Every wall is covered with larger than life, spray paint murals of African Americans, some I recognize of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, but some I don’t. I begin to walk around this abandoned warehouse that Brandon “BMike” Odums has reconstructed to be a street art exhibit. I read a sign to my left of how BMike has created these art pieces to tell the stories of his peers and colleagues and the racial injustices they have endured. The warehouse, which would usually feel so empty and cold, feels full of life with these colorful murals of so many African Americans around me. The warehouse is ginormous with 3D art, interactive installations, and obviously the murals.
One piece that stands out to me the most is a mural that reads, “Ephemeral Eternal”, and below this, it has a short description with the last words being, “this project is ephemeral. Be Ephemeral. Be Eternal.” Ephemeral means lasting for a very short time while eternal means lasting forever. I sit there staring at it, wondering what exactly this meant. I realize that BMike’s goal of this installation was to educate, inspire, and create a conversation between people. This piece was telling me that despite the fact that this project only lasts a short while, the ideas and thoughts that were behind it should last forever. Studio Be is about African American history, the African American experience, and the social injustices that African American’s face in our society today. Despite this project being ephemeral, it was eternal in the idea that we must educate ourselves and start a conversation of just exactly what is going on in our society today especially when it comes to the injustices African Americans face. The faces of these people on the murals are ephemeral, however, their stories are being told, again and again, therefore, they are eternal. We, ourselves, are ephemeral, but our stories and the impact we make on the world is eternal.
Some of these faces around me are famous for sports and music, others for civil rights, and some for being victims of police brutality. I experience a roller coaster of emotions, for so many touching stories and faces surround me. I go through being sad as I read some descriptions of the pieces, being enlightened by some, and being inspired by others. As I begin my last rounds of the exhibit, I don’t want it to end; I want to read and hear and see more stories from African-Americans around the world. This experience taught me so much, but it did so much more than that. Studio Be taught me how to care about others around me, how to listen to stories, and how to use the knowledge I have to make an impact on the world around me. Studio Be inspired me to do more and to be more.
Studio Be taught me about African American history and the social injustices they face in our society. After this experience, I made a lot of connections between what I had learned at Studio Be and the idea of the opportunity gap which we have focused on in class. People don’t get to pick the struggles they face or the opportunities they have, but instead, society helps shape these struggles and opportunities for us. In order for us to help close this opportunity gap, we have to be educated and aware. Studio Be taught me these concepts when it came to African American history and the social injustices they face. I will take what I have learned, start a conversation with others, and educate those around me. This experience has taught me to listen and to understand and to use what I have learned to make a difference in this world which is beyond valuable for any person especially a teacher.