Jade Williams (2016 BFA in Sculpture) will receive a One State Artist Grant from Arts Alliance Illinois for her project Black Purple Bloom. Her traveling memorial tower was created to honor the Black Womxn who have lost their lives to police brutality. Through the collaborative efforts of her in-house team and workshop participants across the state, handmade commemorative blooms are being used to raise awareness for victims whose cases are not getting adequate coverage.

The blooms created are dedicated to individual victims and are used in the embellishment of the tower. In tandem, the tower will sprout in different locations across Chicago—from the bases of removed Confederate statues to populated plazas and walkways. Putting the memorial in high traffic areas is intended to increase awareness and visibility of these victims’ stories while advocating for their justice.

Black Purple Bloom was created as a means to recognize and honor the cultural practices and art forms that Black and Brown womxn and femmes have created. The writings and teachings of Alice Walker are the foundation of this project’s principles and capture the essence of the space. Kits with all materials needed to create sculptural blossoms to contribute to Black Purple Bloom will be sold or donated, and proceeds from the sales will be donated to a charity that seeks justice for women.

The process of constructing the blooms and memorial tower will be documented and shown as a short film during the One State Together in the Arts Conference and will be followed by a Q&A with Williams. The online conference will be held September 29–October 2.

Williams is an installation artist and surface designer whose work investigates the histories and complexities that surround Black female bodies. Jade’s work has been exhibited at Krannert Art Museum, Figure One Gallery, Woman Made Gallery, the Leather Archives and Museum, and Slate Arts and Performance Center. Jade is a 2016 recipient of the James R. and Dorothy E. Shipley Award and the Florence M. House Award, and she is a winner of the 2016 Evanston and Vicinity Biennial. Read the announcement about her grant.