Mural honors life, work of Toni Morrison in Graffiti Alley

Posted at 6:32 PM, Aug 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-08 10:24:07-04

BALTIMORE — Tucked into Graffiti Alley in the Art District of Baltimore sits a new beautiful tribute to the late Toni Morrison.

The artist of the mural honoring Morrison says he and Toni have a similar message. He said he waned to leave an impact on Graffiti Alley, a heavily visited spot.

Often called the conscience of America, Morrison died on Monday at the age of 88. She may have passed, but her spirit lives on through her work and those she inspired.

"Toni Morrison served two purposes for me," said artist Ernest Shaw Jr. "One her literary work and also her commentary relative to what it is like being a creative person of color."

A novelist and professor emeritus, she was the first African-American woman to win a Nobel prize for literature.

To honor her contributions to the world, Shaw created the mural for her just as he did for Aretha Franklin and Roy Hargrove.

"I don’t consider it a loss because individuals like Aretha Franklin and Roy Hargrove, and Toni Morrison, their debt is paid," Shaw said. "They have made their contribution and this is more in recognition of her becoming an ancestor. We have gained an ancestor. She is just doing the work she needs to do on the other side now."

Shaw said it took him only two hours to create the mural, but he realizes the lasting impression it could leave on the city and the many who visit the popular tourist attraction.

He said he understands the culture of Graffiti Alley, that sooner or later this work of art will be replaced with another, but he's happy that people will get to see his artwork, whether it be in person or online.