How a mother, daughter duo are using art to combat systemic racism

Black+Lives+Matter+protests+exploded+across+the+country+this+past+summer+after+the+murder+of+George+Floyd.+93%25+of+them+were+shown+to+be+peaceful+ones%2C+according+to+Time+Magazine.

Juan Diaz / Hilltop Views

Black Lives Matter protests exploded across the country this past summer after the murder of George Floyd. 93% of them were shown to be peaceful ones, according to Time Magazine.

It is a cold, gloomy October morning as a mother and daughter duo set up tents filled with art, each presenting an array of photographs, jewelry, pottery, clothes and original paintings. 

As people start to crowd the GattiTown’s parking lot in Round Rock, the buzzing of good music and conversation fill the air, leading them to the second annual Soul Fuel Art Walk. 

Here, people can find local art, food and culture all in one spot. It is also where you can find Penny Jackson, owner of a house cleaning company and founder of the Soul Fuel Art Walk.

As I walked through the various arrays of art with Jackson, she spoke of her vision behind creating Soul Fuel and why she began such a progressive event.

“I created this event due to Black Out Tuesday for my company and staff, to show that we were going to be standing in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in a way that would address the issue of systemic racism without rioting or protesting,” she says. 

Like many of us, Jackson is troubled with our country’s current climate and wanted to fight back racial injustice in a relaxed and creative way while also bringing awareness to the Black experience through artwork.

“Art speaks without words, and no matter what side of the world you’re on, art speaks to you. So, I wanted to give the artist a free space to let their art speak to the masses,” Jackson says.

Jackson then described how she and her daughter Shanese personally go through each art submission before selecting the top 20 to participate in the show. For many artists, this is their first time displaying and selling their work. 

Many were mingling with prospective customers wanting to purchase original art pieces. Penny and Shanese told artists what kind of art would be allowed to be showcased; they also explained how the event would proceed so that the artists only had to worry about arriving on time with their work in-hand.

“I never thought I would be out here on a Saturday selling the work I make in my kitchen. I feel like this is what I am supposed to do,” twenty-two-year-old Janay says. Janay is a painter from Georgetown whose work reflects the pride and pain of Black lives in today’s America. It appears every artist is commenting on the state of our country through their work, demanding that we dig deeper and face the reality of our America as the shootings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and many others still linger within our hearts and minds. 

“Whether it is marching, protesting, rioting or social media arguing, everybody wants a chance to be heard right now, but it is time we let the art speak,” Shanese says, repeating their mission statement. 

As I walk through the event, I can feel and see change as people of all colors mingle, laugh and exist among one another. At the Soul Fuel Art Walk, people can enjoy the feeling of normalcy outside of the COVID-19 crisis and find good food, music and fantastic original artwork while combating systemic racism with the support of local artists who let their art speak for itself.