Ekua Holmes


In 2015 EKUA HOLMES became a member of the world of children’s literature. Written by Carole Boston Weatherford Voice of Freedom, Fannie Lou Hamer: Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, featured illustrations by Holmes in her debut publishing project. In 2016 the book garnered a Caldecott honor, a Sibert honor, and a Boston Globe Horn Book Award. In addition, Holmes won the Society of Illustrators Silver medal and the Coretta Scott King John Steptoe award for New Talent. Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets written by Kwame Alexander, and Stuff of Stars written by Marion Dane Bauer featuring Holmes illustrations garnered back-to-back Coretta Scott King Illustrator Awards.  This new enterprise is nurtured by and contributes to her studio practice. Her latest project is Coretta: The Autobiography of Mrs. Coretta Scott King. 

Holmes is the founder and lead artist of the Roxbury Sunflower Project, now in its 7th year. The project is a collective community installation which distributes free sunflower seeds as well as invites residents, organizations and businesses to plant and nurture sunflower gardens in and around Roxbury as an elegant symbols of the community’s deep roots, resilience, and radiance. Holmes is a native of Roxbury, MA and a graduate of the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.  Currently Holmes directs MassArt’s Sparc! the ArtMobile, pursuing a mission to “ignite art and design in the neighborhood!”


Adapted from King’s autobiography, this picture book offers a new generation the remarkable story of the activist, artist, wife, and mother whose grace in the face of unspeakable loss continued the momentum of a movement. Beginning with glimpses into her childhood in segregated Alabama, King (1927–2006) describes being the second Black student admitted to Antioch College (her older sister Edythe was the first) and her fight to teach in Ohio— readers see that her pursuit of equality started long before she met and married Martin Luther King Jr. The first-person retelling of events such as the March on Washington is compellingly personal. Holmes’s vibrant illustrations (in acrylic with elements of collage incorporating print and photos) saturate the pages with color. The illustrations also take great care in communicating the very human emotions that King and her family experienced in scenes including her surrounded by her young children at the piano; a phone receiver hanging from its cord at the news of MLK’s death; and her speaking to a crowd just hours after arriving in Memphis despite her grief. Holmes bring this civil rights icon to life, reminding readers of a dream yet to be fully realized.