Native Nashvillian Omari Booker is a mixed-media artist who often focuses on topics of social justice. Painting on found objects such as doors, boards, and even graduation robes, he uses unique materials to convey a story. Booker learned how to paint in a high school art class, but got more serious about art in college when he switched his major from mathematics to graphic design.
Booker uses his art to overcome the struggles in his own life. Over the course of 10 years, he dealt with many life-altering experiences, including a bipolar diagnosis, the death of his sister, and incarceration. Through the stress and trauma, Booker continued to paint, channeling this energy into his craft.
His work often focuses on the criminal justice system, shining a light on the racial disparities that plague it. “If you ever have any interaction with the justice system, you can kind of see how heavy handed it is,“ Booker says. “But [my art] is not always specific. Sometimes it is just making things that bring some level of joy. And I think that is also a way to combat oppression.”
Booker also uses his art to influence change through nonprofit organizations. As an artist in residence at the Civil Rights Corps, he helps to bolster the group’s mission of dismantling systematic oppression in the criminal justice system. He is also a resident artist of the Tennessee Higher Education Initiative, which aims to provide college courses to people in prisons.
For more information on Omari Booker and his work, visit his website.