My name is Shani Peters. I’m an artist and educator and I am one half of the Black School. I’m from Lansing, MI.
These posters are basically about survival. They’re my take on the classroom poster, the sort of generic, mass produced, motivational texts classroom poster that I am creating here specifically with black students in mind. So the text that you see, some of it is original some of it is referencing or quoting historical black thought-leaders. This first one breathe remember breathe is really one-part encouragement to meditate; self-care and collective care are significant part of my practice and a thing that we really try to bring into balance in our programing with the Black School. So here calling up a reference to that, to meditation and wellness. And to, of course, Eric Gardner who asked the police officer who choked him to death dozens of times, told him dozens of times that he couldn’t breathe before he was eventually killed.
The second piece, find the good and praise it is a quote from Betty Shabazz; I read a biography of one of her daughters and she said that her mother always said that to them growing up. Love yourself more… you know, Stevie Wonder never lied [laughs]. Hate does know love is the cure. So that has to fist start within each of us individually and no matter where you’re at in the spectrum of love and wholeness and self-esteem we can all afford to love ourselves more.
This last poster, black life eternal, I read somewhere a few years back that ash is one of the elements that’s actually in its eternal state and that really stuck with me, thinking about the endurance of black people in the United States through so much destruction. And the images in these posters are calling on histories of inflamed uprisings throughout the last 40-50 years. And also looking at nature and the natural cycles of sunrises and sunsets. So this palate of flame and also the beauty of the sunrise and the sunset is something that I’m kind of getting at with that. The usage of the word eternal but it also gives to me some solace through this pain, this painful history, to know that even through all of the loss we’ve experienced, we endure, we persist.