In Progress: Handwriting Artist’s Black Lives Matter Mural, Detroit

Renda Writer describes his work as “handwritten art,” “street art,” “public art,” “OCD art.” The Miami-based artist (and one-time Astoria resident, what up) uses a paint marker to write a single phrase repeatedly across a wall, elevating it to mantra-status.

For his mural “Love is a risk. Do it anyway.,” Writer estimates that he wrote that phrase roughly 500,000 times. The mural stretched 30′ by 30′ at N’Namdi Contemporary in Miami.

Writer is currently at work on a new mural at the N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art in Detroit, taking Black Lives Matter as his subject. I caught him for a quick interview after he wrapped a nearly 12-hour day of paint-writing.

According to Writer, the idea for the mural came from the Detroit center’s owner George N’Namdi.

“It’s interpretive, like anything else, like any kind of art,” he said. “But it’s also not interpretive, because it’s very explicit: Black. Lives. Matter.”

“The reason Black Lives Matter is a slogan, and the reason I’m happy to write it, is because like a lot of my art, the things I write are really just reminders,” Writer continued. “But the thing is that we need to be reminded of that right now, because it’s Black lives that are being taken away by law enforcement in an unjust way.”

The opportunity to write this message on the face of an important Detroit art center “means everything,” he said.

I was curious about Writer’s mental state as he puts together these murals. Unsurprisingly, he described the process as “meditative.” He said he shifts back and forth from loose daydreaming to focused thought on his projects and his future. Songs also get stuck in his head as he works – this week it’s been Mariah Carey. I was treated to a brief rendition of “Dreamlover.”

Plus, he added, “a lot of what goes through my head is just, Black Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter.”

Writer gave himself eight days to write Black Lives Matter more than 2,000 times, before his return flight to Miami takes off on Monday. As is typical for the artist, he encourages the public to visit and watch him work. Detroit residents: you can find him at 52 E. Forest Ave.; he is accepting restaurant and bar suggestions.

This dude’s hustle!