Virtual art exhibit helps Black creatives inspire racial justice

Artists are still helping to push the world forward by tapping into the universal language of creativity.

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From street art to hypnotic music, Black creators have long shared their vital perspectives on systemic racism and racial injustice. 

In 2020, artists are still helping to push the world forward by tapping into the universal language of creativity, despite the global pandemic that has kept many artists and fans alike isolated in their homes for most of the year. 

This work by interdisciplinary artist Dr. Fahamu Pecou, titled “Protagonist 2,” is among the beautiful works featured in “Black Art Rising,” a digital exhibition documenting diverse responses to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Eight creators linked up with LIFEWTR to create a digital art gallery where fans can view the work of Tobe Nwigwe, Reyna Noriega, Temi Coker, Thomas Evans (aka Detour), Shae Anthony, Dr. Fahamu Pecou, Max Sansing and Lauren “Lo” Harris. 

The multi-media art exhibit on TheBlackArtRising.com aims to showcase voices in the movement for equality. 

FLOWER CROWN by Shae Anthony

In addition to the Black Art Rising exhibit, LIFEWTR also offered $500 grants for new or struggling artists to be used for art supplies. 

Pecou, an Atlanta-based artist, said that this moment in time deeply altered his own personal plans for his artwork, but it also challenged the way he creates it. 

POSTER 14. PORTRAITS AND SHAPES SERIES by Temi Coker

“For me, art is about connection,” said Pecou. “Like many, I believe absence has deepened my passion for the work that I do. (The pandemic) has made the importance of art and creative expression more salient. It has also made much more precious those opportunities to be face to face, to experience art in person.”

He said that while historians tell future members of society what happened during significant events, artists tell us what was felt. 

GOD OF COLOR #4 by Thomas Evans

“Throughout history,” Pecou said, “it is the records of our human experience, documented in paintings, sculpture, music and, more recently, film and television where we get the opportunity to not just be made aware of our history but to understand it.”

Harris noted that connection with family and friends is also what she is missing most during the pandemic. A digital artist, she has been able to continue to create in her medium. 

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She said the Black Art Rising digital exhibit by LIFEWTR is setting an example for large brands that should be taking a second look at their engagement — or lack thereof — with black creatives, contractors and employees.

“Black Art Rising is a meaningful step toward creating a more inclusive creative environments,” said Harris.

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After the national unrest that followed the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, many national brands pledged a deeper commitment to causes that benefit African Americans. 

Michael Smith, a PepsiCo senior marketing director, maintains that “Black creatives have long been underrepresented in the arts.” The company chose to support artists, he says, because these people “now more than ever are inspiring others to use their voices with purpose and push others to address systemic racism head on.” 

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For Anthony, being a part of the exhibit offered an opportunity to raise her voice among her peers.

“Our styles and mediums may vary,” she said, “but our messages are the same. We are here, we are creators, and we matter.” 

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