All the mural magic we saw at Detroit’s inaugural BLKOUT Walls mural festival


The inaugural Black-produced BLKOUT Walls Festival turned the spotlight on Black muralists, as well as the limited racial diversity and lack of sustainable compensation in the art world. The weeklong festival was conceived by artists Thomas "Detour" Evans, Max Sansing, and Sydney G. James, who most recently graced Detroit walls with a Malice Green mural last year during the height of Black Lives Matter protests, as well as a massive mural titled "The Girl with the D Earring."

Over the course of the week, BLKOUT Walls hosted artist talks, city tours, panel discussions, pop-up art exhibitions, and the main event: live murals. Festival organizers selected 20 artists of color from all over the U.S. to create live murals on commercial structures throughout the North End community and the northern edge of the adjacent New Center area. Unlike similar festivals across the country, BLKOUT Walls Mural Festival committed to paying each artist a fee, as well as compensating lodging, meals, and transportation costs to better establish economic equity in the diverse arts community.

Photos by Justin W. Milhouse