(WXYZ) — The clock is ticking to check out a mural festival in Detroit like you've never seen before.
"BLKOUT Walls" is a one-of-a-kind experience in the heart of Detroit's North End. It's a chance to see murals as they're created by local and national artists, on full display.
There are a couple of ways the project stands out. The artists behind the festival had a lot of intention behind it.
During their years of traveling for mural festivals around the globe, they noticed a problem with representation. The festival is in a response to that.
“When kids drive by with their parents or walk by and they see us creating, it’s really inspirational to them because they can see, oh there’s a future in being a creator," Sydney G. James, a visual artist, said.
When it comes to being a Black creator in the industry, James said there's usually only one present. Not this time.
The inaugural BLKOUT Walls Festival was created by and is led by Black artists.
“It was conceived by myself, Max Sansing, an artist based out of Chicago, and Thomas ‘Detour’ Evans, an artist based out of Denver," James said.
The family-friendly event kicked off July 24 and goes through Saturday. During that 7-day stretch, you can see participating artists at work – 10 of them local and 10 more from around the country.
Sansing, who is from the South Side of Chicago, said he was inspired by artwork in his community. He got involved in summer arts programs as a kid, then started leading them as a young adult.
The murals give an important glimpse into what communities care about.
“There’s an artistic expression of the culture of the community the mural is in. Murals can kind of reflect the culture that’s in the neighborhood," he said.
It's part of the reason the festival is happening where it is, in the North End. It was once a bastion for industrial development and Black business. Over the years, it has faced many setbacks, and has been at the forefront of James' work in the past.
Through BLKOUT Walls, festival-goers also get an impromptu tour of the neighborhood and the places that once drove it.
“We have the Apex bar right across the street, the Phelps Lounge down the street," James said. “I want them to feel like they’ve just entered into a museum but they didn’t have to go anywhere.”
The Knight Foundation is one of many sponsors for this event. On Saturday, there will be a BLKOUT Walls party happening at the Chroma building.
JENN LIVE TAG: THE KNIGHT FOUNDATION IS ONE OF THE MANY SPONSORS FOR THIS EVENT.. YOU CAN CHECK OUT THE OTHERS ON OUR WEBSITE, WXYZ.COM AND TO WRAP UP THIS FESTIVAL ON SATURDAY THERE WILL BE A BLKOUT WALLS BLOCK PARTY HAPPENING RIGHT AT CHROMA BUILDING… YOU CAN’T MISS IT… IT’S MARKED BY ONE OF JAMES’ PREVIOUS MURALS… GIRL WITH D EARRING. THAT’S FROM 12 TO 6. REPORTING LIVE, JENN SCHANZ 7 ACTION NEWS.