Professor Creates Mural for Arts Factory at Johnson C. Smith University

Published in 2013



For Hasaan Kirkland, associate professor of fine art at Johnson C. Smith University, art has always been second nature. He started taking interest in his craft at a young age, drawing cartoons and race cars with his older brother on paper, but now his new canvas is a wall outside of the Arts Factory on West Trade Street near campus.

The mural represents the university’s visual and performing arts program, which includes dance, graphic design, film and video production, studio art and theatre art. Kirkland commented, “The mural is a visual depiction of what happens in the program. It’s something that I really wanted to contribute to the school.”

This project is completely different from anything he has done in the past because it is his first public art piece. He stated about the assignment, “This is my first large outdoor wall mural. I had to scale the wall before I started painting and deal with the elements of the outdoors.” 

As an artist, Kirkland describes his style of painting as Neo-Abstract Expressionism. “It is a newer form of imagery that can be representational or abstract,” he said. “Neo-functionality doesn’t follow the necessary order. Murals are a part of the curriculum for studio arts majors because it provides them with the opportunity to develop their own style.”

Kirkland has a special interest in civil rights, and his work has been included in various local museums and galleries. Specifically, he has a piece dedicated to the legacy of Medgar Evers, titled “For Evers Hope.” The piece represents learning about and acknowledging that period. “It details the perspective that he (Evers) had on civil rights, said Kirkland. “It also promotes the words that he said came true in one day having a Black president.”

Kirkland completely dedicates himself when it comes to producing his work, and each piece that he does tells its own story. He said, “Art has always been an outlet of creativity for me. Even as a child, I had a heightened sense of interest in creativity.” It is because of this outlook that there is now a unique and captivating work of art outside the Arts Factory.