Akira Dudley

Storied Art

In Buzz, May 2021 by Lauren KruchtenLeave a Comment

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New Raleigh Murals book remembers the creations of local artists throughout DTR from last summer.

With great turmoil after the nationwide protests-turned-riots following the death of George Floyd in May 2020 came a plethora of inspirational murals splashed across the boarded-up businesses throughout Downtown Raleigh. Now, on the anniversary of Floyd’s death (May 25), local artists Akira Dudley and Laura Pfaff’s new coffee-table book, Raleigh Murals, will be available for preorder—immortalizing those pieces—and their significance.
Though the murals directly followed the DTR riots, Dudley says the book isn’t solely in response to what happened here in Raleigh. Spanning more than 100 pages and including the works of 60-plus local artists, Raleigh Murals solidifies and further spreads the messages created by these artists, serving as a reminder of the necessary changes in equality that need to be made both here and across the country.

“What sparked [Raleigh Murals] in the first place was police brutality across America,” says Dudley. “I didn’t want it to be like, ‘Yeah, we put up art because of the riots.’ We put up art because we felt like a message needed to be sent about something bigger than the riots. But if the riots didn’t happen here, I’m sure we would’ve put up art because they were happening everywhere else.”

Dudley himself created five murals at Junction West. Though he was staying in Boone at the time the riots happened Downtown, he jumped at the opportunity to contribute to the beautification of the city, working on his pieces between attending virtual summer classes. “It was such a moving experience to be able to be a part of,” he says. “The murals definitely made a difference.”

When Pfaff approached Dudley about creating the mural book, he again jumped at the opportunity. Together (and with the help of The Raleigh Murals Project and contributing artists), they gathered photos of the hopeful wall art woven across DTR in an effort to showcase it long after the boards came down.

All proceeds from Raleigh Murals will be donated to Emancipate NC, which works to dismantle structural racism and mass incarceration across North Carolina; and the African American Atelier, a nonprofit art gallery in Greensboro that promotes awareness and appreciation of the arts and culture of African Americans.

In addition to availability at local retailers Father + Son and House of Swank, Dudley’s goal is to extend the book’s reach beyond Raleigh via Amazon. “If more people see this, it’ll bring the community together—not only based around the art, but around the message,” he says. After all, in the famed words of Leon Brown: “History repeats itself endlessly for those who are unwilling to learn from the past.” Preorder May 25; official release Juneteenth (June 19); amazon.com

TOP: From left: Lord Phly, Matthew Scofield
BOTTOM: From left: Jalel Ronin, Thirty Sixth Murals Company, Akira Dudley, Grace Ownbey

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