Overcoming Fear and Coming Together: Celebrating @aniekanreloaded’s Bold Murals
To see more of his murals all over Washington, DC, follow @aniekanreloaded on Instagram. This post is part of Instagram’s #MakeYourMap, a project to capture and celebrate local culture and heritage during #BlackHistoryMonth, which runs throughout February in the United States.
It only took one man, Aniekan Udofia (@aniekanreloaded), to paint this larger-than-life mural of music legend and activist Marvin Gaye, but an entire community came together to make it a lasting image in Washington, DC’s cityscape. The wall Aniekan originally painted his commissioned mural on was torn down, so the people of the Shaw neighborhood in Northwest DC raised money to start fresh.
“I actually like the second one because there was no control in terms of the creativity, the timeline or the style,” says Aniekan, a DC illustrator who paints murals all over his city — no easy feat for a man terrified of heights. “The funny thing is, once I’m up there for a few minutes, I’ll get the swing of it — as long as I’m not looking down.”
Aniekan spent 16 years living in his parents’ native country of Nigeria before moving to the US to study fine art, but didn’t hold a can of spray paint until years after he graduated. “It’s like someone giving you a can of Cheez Wiz to create art,” he jokes. He still holds a special place in his heart for the trusty pencil, using the image as a sort of signature: “The pencil represents persistence. You can use the pencil to the last drop of lead.”