Dave Herman

UT graduate Lakeem Wilson’s debut book, “Natural Born Star,” will feature 46 of Wilson’s photographs and illustrations. Many of his pieces are influenced by his childhood and focus on social justice issues in America.

Photo Credit: Ellyn Snider | Daily Texan Staff

Editor's note: The article below has been revised since its original publication. When published, the article included three quotes copied verbatim from a USA Today article titled "Texas student uses visual art to inspire social change." Those quotes have since been removed. The Daily Texan takes all instances of plagiarism seriously and formally apologizes for the violation of our readers' trust. 

Additionally, Lakeem Wilson was misidentified as a cofounder of Red Throat House. He is a contributor.

With a sketchbook tucked under his arm and both hands chock-full of pens, Lakeem Wilson, a recent UT graduate and artist, meanders through Austin streets, stopping only to sketch what he sees: empty park benches, quiet streets and smoking strangers. He fills entire pages before finishing his walk through the city.  

“Drawing and painting is just something I have always done — just this constant focus in my life,” Wilson said. “It has always provided me a sense of comfort because I can turn to it whenever I need to express things I feel.”

Wilson’s debut art book, “Natural Born Star,” contains 46 photographs and illustrations he created while at UT. His work, which ranges from realistic depictions of the commonplace to abstract images, plays with the boundary between reality and fantasy. Wilson explored the personal effects and consequences of political issues, such as racial violence and police brutality, through the works in the collection. Red Throat House — an Austin-based art collective — will release “Natural Born Star” on Feb. 5.   

Wilson said his identity as a black American has influenced his art and contributed to his distinct style. He said he grew up in an impoverished Dallas neighborhood and, while his childhood lacked monetary comforts, it was rich in culture.  

Dave Herman serves as a creative director for the nonprofit organization Preservation LINK, an education agency designed to foster personal growth and artistic expression in youths. In 2006, Herman taught Wilson in a visual literacy program through Preservation LINK. Herman has mentored Wilson ever since and said watching him develop as an artist has been gratifying. 

“It is great to see that he has stayed committed to his craft,” Herman said. “He continued down this path and is now able to celebrate having a body of illustrations connected by insightful observations and social context.” 

Amyn Kassam, cofounder of Red Throat House, helped Wilson assemble his book to make his art more accessible to the public. Kassam, said Wilson’s artistic style stands out to him because it is colorful and playful but grapples with serious content. 

“I find Lakeem’s work compelling because his casual style invites the eye to explore the serious and complicated issues that his illustrations depict,” Kassam said.  

Red Throat House is hosting a book release for Wilson on Feb. 5 at Spider House Ballroom. “Natural Born Star” will be available for purchase at the release and can be viewed online at www.redthroathouse.com. 

Wilson said he intends to become an illustrator and plans to go to graduate school in the fall. He said he hopes to one day inspire other young artists.

Name: “Natural Born Star”

Pages: 50

Genre: Art

Author: Lakeem Wilson