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‘Art is love, and love is art’: Young people gather to paint, celebrate community

Fayetteville NEXT brings millennials together to honor Black History Month

Video by Tony Wooten

In downtown Fayetteville on Friday night, a group of about 30 met in a room above a barbershop to celebrate Black History Month — a time when many reflect on how Black people have contributed to and made this country what it is today.

In the room above the barbershop, a few round tables were circled with seats, and a few easels and canvases were placed on top.

On each canvas, there was a king and queen embracing each other and the shape of a heart in the middle.

To celebrate Black History Month, each person in attendance painted colors onto this image with the guidance of local artist Reddick Mack, who also goes by the pseudonym “Kognoscenti.”

“I grew up in a small household, and our main thing was we didn’t have a lot. But we had love,” Mack said, explaining why he chose the image to celebrate Black History Month. “As we continue to grow older and we continue to live the life that we live, it’s kind of easy to stay away from that.”

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Mack said that coming together to paint an image that represents love can help people remember the importance of loving each other.

“Art is love, and love is art,” Mack said. “It doesn’t matter about what color, creed or what religion you are. It’s about loving on each other.”

As people painted, music played, ranging from R&B classics like “Caravan of Love” by Isley Jasper Isley to modern hip-hop hits like “Alright” by Kendrick Lamar.

People laughed, ate food and drank beverages while they painted.

The gathering was hosted by Fayetteville NEXT, a city commission that was started in 2019 to advise the City Council on ways to keep young people living in the area.

Fayetteville NEXT Chairman Malik Davis said events like the art workshop can build a sense of community among young people.

“The focus is to create an environment for my neighbors to have fun, like tonight,” Davis said. “It’s Black history, but it’s still a fun environment for millennials to come out and enjoy themselves.”

Davis said the purpose of events like this is to let people know that Fayetteville has plenty to offer to young people who make it their home.

“A lot of people go to Raleigh to do this or other things, and so we just have to have something here to keep those millennials to stay,” Davis said. “The importance of this is to keep them to stay in Fayetteville and enjoy Fayetteville.”

Ben Sessoms covers Fayetteville and education for CityView. He can be reached at bsessoms@cityviewnc.com.

Fayetteville, NEXT, Black History Month, millennials