Artists bring life to boarded up State St. businesses

Published: Jun. 2, 2020 at 7:48 PM CDT
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Madison artists gave State Street a new look Tuesday, after businesses suffered three days of damage and looting. Artists tried to bring some positivity to the difficult situation.

Armed with spray paint cans and tubes of colorful paint, artists worked to bring some life back to the downtown street.

"We're kind of looking at this as our way to help during this terrible situation," said mural artist Emily Valsley.

Three nights of violent riots damaged many local businesses, forcing them to shut their doors and board up their windows. The city and some shop owners asked artists to bring some color to those plywood panels.

"It was really fun to put the first big swatch on," said artist Daniella Echeverria.

Artists said after the riots, they wanted a positive way to spread support the message of the Black Lives Matter movement.

"I think everybody's trying to be heard, and this is another way of being heard," said artist Emida Roller.

Emida's daughter Sapphina Roller designed the mural the family painted on the Madison Modern Market building. The mural depicts a black woman holding up her fist.

"I just wanted an image that was a positive image and the fist, the black power fist and something that represents me too," Sapphina said.

Artists said they want to help the community heal.

"What's going on right now is not, it's not acceptable," Emida said.

Still, they wanted to honor the cause behind the recent peaceful protests.

"I hope that what people take away is that white people need to be allies and can't be silent anymore and need to fight for black and brown people," Echeverria explained.

Valsley added, "To see that there are multiple artists that are doing their thing up and down, it just makes me feel a little better about the world right now."

Emida said the best part was seeing the smiles on business owner's faces. Several artists have already been asked to create more artwork on State Street.