Last Summer the corner of East Ferry and Michigan in Buffalo was changed forever. Artist Edreys Wajed had a hand in that transformation. Edreys was one of four local artists chosen to create the Freedom Wall, a three hundred foot long, fifteen foot high tribute to twenty-eight iconic civil rights leaders-many with ties to Western New York.
The project was commissioned bny the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in partnership with the NFTA. Edreys says when he got the call to participate "I was very uncertain that I could do it." He said "yes" anyway. It's not that he doubted his artistic talent, Edreys parents were artists and he'd been creating art all his life. He had just never painted anything the size of the wall.
There were other challenges too, like the weather. Edreys points out "the days were 80 and 90 degrees and it's a south facing wall so the sun was always out. Another issue was that the artists were always on view by the many spectators who stopped by to watch and ask questions. That was a part that Edreys says he wasn't prepared for but really enjoyed.
Each artist was commissioned to paint seven large portraits of people who were instrumental in the civil rights movement. Edreys portraits included Frank Merriweather, Malcom X and Harriet Tubman. He also got to meet the daughter of one of his other subjects, Dr. Lydia T. Wright, who praised the artist's work "she said you did an amazing job on my mother."
The wall took more that two months to complete and Edreys Wajed says it was a learning experience for him and hopes that the work will be an inspiration for all in the years ahead.