George Floyd

Black Chicago Artist Aims to Document ‘Really Important Time in American History'

"I want these paintings to live forever but what's in my mind cannot"

Jaylen Prater

Dwight White found art in a time of pain, and now he's using his work to help America do the same.

The Chicago painter threw himself into the creative medium after suffering an injury as a football player at Northwestern University nearly six years ago. Now, the emotions that brought him to his craft are the same ones his work evokes.

"Whether it's showing pain, anger, I think I'm just trying to capture emotions people are feeling right now," he said.

White has focused his recent pieces, including murals in Chicago, on George Floyd and the outcry that has flooded streets nationwide since.

"I see what's happening in the world right now," he said. "I know art is a really important tool."

Joining forces with Chicago artists Ant Ben and Jettila Lewis, White helped paint the massive mural that now sits on the Dark Matter Coffee Caravanserai Wall.

White said beyond the art itself, the collaboration between the artists was also one they hoped would inspire a stronger bond between the city's black and Latinx communities.

Being a black artist, White said the art industry isn't immune to the issues facing America's black community.

"For black artists, we experience the same challenges that a lot of black people experience across industries," he said.

Among those challenges, he recalled, are galleries not wanting to display work by black artists and a fear that his street artwork will be mistaken as graffiti.

"For me, I always think about having my back turned when I'm painting a wall and having someone thinking I'm doing graffiti when I've actually been commissioned," he said. "I hope one day to not have to feel that at all."

In addition to the murals, White has dedicated his entire recent collection to the current situation unfolding in the U.S.

The message he hopes people take away from his work?

"What I hope they take away is one: something that resonates with them that is really true, authentic. I don't aim to paint anything that is not reflective of the current state of America. I want people to one: remember these times not just for a week, but for a month, a year and many times to come and that's kind of my purpose right now," he said. "I want these paintings to live forever but what's in my mind cannot. Several years from now, even when I leave this Earth, my artwork will have documented a really important time in American history."

Photos: Chicago Artist Aims to Capture Emotion, ‘Add Color to a Dark Situation’

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