“Black is the sum of all colors.”
The words glide across the wall on 63 N. Main St. in Upland. Painted on the side of a building adjacent to popular cafe, The Bridge, Tashema Davis’ latest mural brings new conversations to the area.
Troy Tiberi, owner of the building, had the idea of Davis painting the wall on his property. Tiberi met with a friend at The Bridge, explaining how he wanted to show his support for the Black Lives Matter movement, and the recent death of George Floyd in Minnesota. This friend immediately recommended Davis, and directed him towards her website.
From there, all it took was a quick Facebook message. After laying out her terms of service, Davis was on board.
“I just want to do something beautiful,” Davis told Tiberi. With 20 years of experience in the arts, it is not hard for Davis to deliver just that.
From a young age, Davis knew she was destined to create. With dreams of being a cartoonist for Disney, Davis grew up admiring all the beauty that was around her with a pencil in hand.
In 2000, Davis decided to attend Ball State University for interior design, but she quickly realized this was not something that was going to satisfy her need to create. In 2010, Davis found herself back at Ball State pursuing art and a teaching license so she could share her love with others.
Fast forward to 2020, and now Davis’s work appears larger than life in the public eye. For those who have not seen it, the wall features a painted portrait of a woman of color with shapes of teal and black surrounding the face. The text weaves through the windows of the wall and leads the viewer’s eyes towards the woman’s face.
However, painting in Upland was new to Davis.
“It was a little fearful because I’m not from this area, I’m from Gary, which is up north, and I heard a lot of negative things about Upland,” Davis said.
Taking this opportunity came with the joy of sharing art but the struggle of anticipating negative feedback before it is given. Davis had not chosen to paint in this location, but due to the request of the building owner,the mural fell into her lap.
Despite this fear, Davis took on the job with the sole purpose of creating something meaningful and impactful.
“I just hope that (the viewers) are able to look at (the mural) and see something beautiful and see a beautiful brown face,” Davis said. “I wanted it to be seen and I wanted it to be something beautiful.”
Davis’s painting was met with positive feedback and gave her an experience in Upland that contradicted the negative things she had heard about the town.
Davis truly creates an experience with the viewer, even one who sees her work by only a quick glimpse through a moving car window. These quick moments of a person’s attention where the artist must make their mark and share their mission.
“I feel like as an artist I am tasked to show the heartbeat of the city,” Davis said. “And I think that’s what I really love about a mural.”