What Inspires Artist Kareem Fletcher
Inspiration comes in many forms. For Kareem Fletcher, the artist behind the Seaport District’s new mural, The Hands of Inspiration, everything from personal challenges to social issues and community activism is channeled into the art he produces. Or as Fletcher puts it, the burning questions that drive his creative process include, ‘How can my artwork impact the world?’ and ‘What can I do?’ and, ‘How can I make a difference?’
Such questions can be seen in action in the artist’s new piece on display in the Seaport. Last summer, during Black Lives Matter protests, Fletcher painted a piece featuring George Floyd titled The Rest: “While painting it, people of different ethnic backgrounds placed their painted hands on the mural in solidarity,” he explains. “I felt overwhelmed with joy to see the community come together and the impact each handprint made to complete the art.”
Fletcher fueled that joy into the creation of The Hands of Inspiration, incorporating faces into handprints and manipulating them to add texture. The faces, he says, “represent people and the variety of colors that make us all unique: Out of one, many people.”
Fletcher’s style merges traditional art techniques with of-the-moment influences, and his paintings are vivid and approachable, even as they tackle historical events and the untarnished reality of contemporary society. The artist, who was born on a U.S. Air Force base in the Philippines and earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Florida, was drawn to the idea of exhibiting in the Seaport as a platform for sharing his art with the public. His hope is that The Hands of Inspiration, in addition to celebrating diversity, will provide motivation. “I want people to feel empowered, encouraged, and strong,” he says. “To recognize the power in their hands and the difference they can make, joining hands together in unity.”
Fletcher, a cancer survivor, knows a thing or two about motivation: for more than 10 years, he has provided art therapy to youth at risk in foster care and juvenile justice programs. “I use art to help motivate young people, and to explore talents they may have been unaware of,” he says.
Whether painting portraits of well-known figures, creating community murals in Miami, or using art alongside social activism, there is one unifying thread that connects his practice, and it’s an uplifting one: “Anything is possible when people work together in peace, love, harmony.”
The Hands of Inspiration is on show at 193 Front St. through April 30.