Kwadwo was painting a tribute to victims of police brutality. Then he almost became one.

Kwadwo Adae is more than just a painter — he's a community builder (and impeccable dresser).

For the last decade, Kwadwo (pronounced "K’way-jo") has run Adae Fine Art Academy in New Haven, Connecticut's historic Ninth Square, where he teaches art to children, teens, and adults.

But not everyone can make it to the classroom. So Kwadwo brings his art to them, taking his talents on the road in a mobile studio that visits mental health clinics and assisted living centers, creating communities and helping people heal through artistic expression.


He also paints murals, chatting with customers at his local bakery as he adds another flourish to the wall, or traveling across the world to create collaborative community pieces with underprivileged children.

"Art is a really powerful thing, and I don't think our society places enough value on what art can do," he told Upworthy. "There's the healing factor that's inherent in an artistic passion, and you cannot underestimate its power."

Kwadwo (in the rear, with that lovely paisley button-up) with students from Anjanisain Paryavaran Vidyalaya School in the Himalayas, where he travelled to help them make a mural on their school. All photos by Kwadwo Adae, used with permission.

In the summer of 2014, Kwadwo began to paint an image of Lady Justice posed with her iconic swords and scale.

A friend volunteered to model for him. He'd been doing a series of nude studies but was looking for a different way to challenge himself, rather than just painting a figure. A deity, perhaps, or some mythological figure...

It was serendipity that they settled on depicting her as Lady Justice.

A few weeks later, Michael Brown was killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.

In the aftermath, Kwadwo got involved with the Black Lives Matter movement, participating in peaceful demonstrations from New Haven to New York. But his painting fell to the wayside, languishing unfinished in his studio.

Kwadwo had wanted his Lady Justice to be different, something otherworldly and transcendent and righteous and frightening and recognizable, but somehow still inhuman — because justice, as he understood it, was not just reserved for humans.

But with each successive tragedy, he found himself questioning what, exactly, his Lady Justice stood for. "I was appalled and shocked and had this feeling about what justice means for me, as a black man living in this society. And I really struggled with that," he said.

Kwadwo and his in-process Lady Justice painting.

Every time another black American was slain, he would bring the painting back out, immortalizing their names on the back of the canvas.

"As the year passed and more and more men and women of color were executed by police, I would be filled [with] unhealthy levels of sadness, anger, and despair. The only constructive place to put these emotions was in this depiction of Lady Justice," he wrote in a Facebook post. "When I can no longer fit another name on the back of this painting, I will officially consider this piece complete."

But the list of names kept getting longer, and his painting began to fill him with disgust.

What started as a tribute now served as a sickening reminder of the terrible injustices that his family and friends dealt with every single day. He hid his Lady Justice in the back of his studio, focusing instead on an abstract series or a sprawling floral print.

At least, until another name was broadcast on the news.

The back canvas of Kwadwo's Lady Justice painting.

And then, on Dec. 18, 2015, he saw the flashing lights in his own rearview mirror.

Kwadwo said he was less than 100 yards from his house, on his way to the studio, when he was pulled over by a plainclothes state trooper, who approached the car with his weapon drawn.



His frightened mind flashed through every possible scenario, but there was one thought in particular that wouldn't leave his mind:

"Who would be the one to write my name in memoriam on the back of my own painting?"

Kwadwo wasn't killed. But he was taken into custody.

His alleged crime? Running a stop sign, and crossing the double yellow lines into traffic.

Although he was detained, the police released Kwadwo later that day, with a court date on Dec. 30.

The police report made sure to note Kwadwo's "fair/poor" attitude.

There was no mention of a weapon being drawn.

"When you are a black man in these United States, getting pulled over and seeing a gun drawn is analogous to having a near death experience. I am truly grateful to have a court date instead of a death certificate today," Kwadwo wrote.

12 days later, Kwadwo appeared in New Haven's Superior Court — and his neglected Lady Justice was finally complete.

He could have spent the interim days stewing in his anger or depression. But Kwadwo found a better way to channel his energy, and he committed himself to putting the finishing touches on the painting.

His Lady Justice was completed on the morning of his trial.

Kwadwo showed up in court and told his own side of the story — which stood in stark contrast to the officer's report. The case was ultimately thrown out and expunged from his record in exchange for a $25 donation to the Crime Victims Fund.

I've been spending so much time staring deeply into her blindness as of late; personally and patiently awaiting her eyes upon me in judgement. Although she is nearly complete in one sense, I shall be working on her in perpetuity. My dearest Lady Justice. #ladyjustice #lady #justice #art #painting #artist #artistlife #oilpainting #law #lawyer #swords #shields #scales #judge #jury #executioner #ladyinjustice #blind #blindfolded #visualart #antiviolence #policebrutality #blacklivesmatter #artstudio #painter
A photo posted by Kwadwo Adae (@kwadwo.adae) on

With his harrowing encounter behind him, Kwadwo is feeling freshly inspired as the new year begins — and his positive energy is infectious.

"I'm taking the emotional damage of the experience and trying to translate it into my art," he told me a week after his court date.

He's back to taking aikido classes again after an injury put him on the sidelines for the year. He points out the aikido swords in the hands of his Kali-esque painting and explains how aikido is about taking the aggressive force of your attacker and using that energy to redirect and end the conflict.

He's also been meditating. Sometimes in those quiet moments, Kwadwo's mind wanders to the man who arrested him that day. But there is no vengeance or vitriol in his thoughts — just forgiveness. "We're all trying to make the world a better place," Kwadwo says. "Even the cop who pulled me over is trying to make the world a better place in his own way. We're all trying to do our best. We just need to get better at empathizing with other people."

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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