Good Trouble | EKUA HOLMES

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In Partnership with Cambridge College, 2022

Banner Art detail: Ekua Holmes, "Angry Fannie - Freedom Summer"

Image Gallery

Artist Statement

As an imagemaker, my focus has been to remember and to remind us of who we are - creative, cultured, caring, resilient, loving and deeply connected. I look for visual stories that elevate the best in us and focus our minds on beauty and justice.

Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. —Phillipians 4:8

From that foundation of strength and sovereignty we welcome "good trouble", "necessary trouble" because we know our causes are righteous and that the ancestors stand with us.

There is no beauty but the beauty of action.
—Moroccan Proverb

Artist Bio + Contact Info

Ekua Holmes is a contemporary Boston artist, community activist, and award-winning picture book illustrator whose body of work explores themes of family, relationships, hope, and faith. A life-long photographer and painter with an affinity for collage, Holmes is now influencing contemporary picture book arts. She has created award-winning illustration art for children’s books since 2014, when her art caught the eye of a local children’s book publisher. Holmes’s sensitive, and often deeply personal, approach to illustration results in vibrant visual narratives, unique to each literary project, that engage readers of all ages. In this time of significant diversification of children’s literature, her personal artistic vision and commitment to black imagery make her one of the most important contributors to change. In 2016, Holmes won a Caldecott honor, a Robert Sibert Award, and a Horn Book Award for her first book of illustrations, “Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, spirit of the Civil Rights Movement” by Carole Boston Weatherford. In 2018 and 2019 Holmes received back-to-back Coretta Scott King Book Awards for Illustration. The first for “Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets" by Kwame Alexander, Chris Colderly, and Marjory Wentworth and the following year for her illustrations in Marion Dane Bauer’s "The Stuff of Stars" (2018).

“Black is a Rainbow Color” by first time author Angela Joy and illustrated by Holmes, has received numerous starred reviews and is included in several 2021-2022 “Best of” lists. The newly released, “Dream Street,” written by Holmes’ cousin and collaborator, Tricia Elam Walker, celebrates the characters of their beloved neighborhood of Roxbury. “Dream Street” has also garnered many starred reviews and sits on the New York Times, Horn Book and NPR Bestseller lists of 2021-2022. “Composed from fragments of discarded paper, fabrics, newsprint and books, Holmes’ collages of translucent layers of color and texture mimic the shimmering layers of memory, refracting and reflecting patterns of light and story across time.”

Holmes was working as an artist long before she began creating book illustrations, and she continues to pursue a wide range of independent artistic projects such as The Roxbury Sunflower Project, now in its fourth year. “Paper Stories, Layered Dreams: The Art of Ekua Holmes, a solo exhibition organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, featured 40 works of art by Holmes. A selection of portraits, images of life in the city, and narrative illustrations from five unique book projects. These artworks show that Holmes's imagery, philosophy and method of working flow between her personal and published works.

Currently Holmes serves as Associate Director of MassArt’s Center for Art and Community Partnerships, and directs sparc! the ArtMobile, pursuing a mission to “ignite art and design in the neighborhood.” She also serves as Vice Chair of the Boston Art Commission, which oversees the commissioning, selection and care of public art in the City of Boston.

Artist's Website: