Lyd Walls, a locally based artist, recently released two paintings in a new series entitled "In Solidarity." The acrylics on paper feature silhouettes of women standing together in varying shades of color.
Walls has released previous works of figures beautifully sketched and painted in such a way that the acrylics mimic water colors, but these works are purposefully different to highlight the inclusivity of her art, she said.
"I have been learning how to better be an ally to all races and I'm still learning," she said.
The pieces are not activism art, she said. Rather she considers herself a "humanitarian" and the works are part of her efforts towards healing and reconciliation.
"I care about the underprivileged and the marginalized. I want to bring awareness to those groups and I want to hold space and have compassion for those groups," she said.
Walls said this is especially true considering her own past experiences of feeling "not worthy of holding space."
"I did experience being ostracized a lot and it was directly related to how I looked," she said. "I've always rooted for the underdog and the minorities because being left out was so devastating to me."
"In Solidarity," specifically, is a reflection of her personal and artistic efforts to call attention to the frustrations and pains of African Americans historically and especially in recent months in the country. Walls said she chose her art as the medium to express her desires for unity and compassion because, "You attract more flies with honey or bees or whatever that saying is," she laughed.
"Let's get real for a second here. There are people out there who really just cannot see that racism is still very prominent ... I want to bring people in with harmony," she said. "Instead of trying to argue and debate back and forth with people who aren't from my point of view, maybe I can come with something that just connected with their heart."
Drawing audiences in with her art will hopefully create space and common ground for people to learn from and support one another, she said.
"Your experience is yours and I'm not going to take that away from you. But let's listen and let's hold space, have compassion, hold hands, be together and united," she said.
Walls, active on social media, frequently uses hashtags and captions that seek to inspire followers to be "real" and true to themselves. Despite some backlash she received from the new pieces, she said a choice not to use her art to speak out would be hypocritical.
"This is so, so heavy on my heart. If I don't paint about it then I'm not being real and I'm not walking my talk. My art is always about what's on my heart so it fits and I had to do it."
Bringing in new shades to her palette, representative of many skin colors and ethnicities, will also serve as a signpost of the inclusivity of her art, she added.
"My art is not just for white women. My art is for women of all colors and really all people, men too."
The deeper skin tones have added "more depth" to her work philosophically and artistically, she said.
"It just opened up a whole other level to my art because the color dynamics now are so vibrant. I can just see so many more color combinations and palettes that are speaking to be because my art is so minimal and there's not a lot to it."
Learn more about Lyd Walls at http://www.facebook.com/lydabstracts or on Instagram @lydwallsart.