LANSING (AP) — When he was 20, Josh Moore was directionless.
He’d dropped out of Lansing Community College. He was selling marijuana, so he could pay for what he was smoking.
Among his friends was a teen who ended up being shot multiple times on an elementary school playground during a drug deal. The friend survived, but a few years later was convicted of armed robbery and is now serving 20 to 35 years in prison.
“It was a dark time for me,” Moore, now 29, recalled to the Lansing State Journal. “I was going down the wrong road. It was at a point where it was either going to get worse — or I was going to stop and get better.”
He began to turn his life around in 2005, he said, after being arrested for marijuana possession and now is a full-time artist and apprentice for internationally recognized Grand Rapids-based artist Paul Collins.
They recently collaborated on an 8-by-8-foot mural featuring Martin Luther King Jr. that they plan to install in a new exhibition center in a Chicago neighborhood, where the civil rights leader once lived.
Collins, who in 2006 was honored by the U.S. House of Representatives, said he and Moore will collaborate on a second mural that will feature King on one side, President Barack Obama on the other, and the Statue of Liberty in the center.
“Josh is not only going to be an outstanding artist, but an outstanding man for the community,” Collins said.
Moore, he said, has come to realize that art can be a force for positive change.
“Art is one of the few things that can bring people together,” Collins said. “That’s what he is doing.”
Moore, who works in his bedroom in the mobile home north of Lansing that he shares with his parents, is working on a series of paintings about the “best in humanity.”