Who Are the Artists Behind the Protest Art You’ve Been Sharing?
You've probably seen and maybe even shared their artworks on social media but let's get to know them a little deeper.| June 4, 2020
The oil painting-esque digital portrait of George Floyd in a suit and bowtie. The illustration of Floyd framed within a floral wreath. The trio of black earth-toned cut-outs ala Henri Matisse centred with the “Black Lives Matter” slogan. In the last couple of days, you might have seen these art pieces making the rounds on Instagram. As everyone from Tinseltown’s A-listers to politicians and influencers take to social media to spread messages of support and raise awareness, digital artworks have taken centre stage as an important medium.
It dignifies the lives lost and amplifies the messages that demand to be heard. Or for those who might not quite have the right words to say, the art does the talking for them. Many of these illustrations, often rendered in pastel hues, also tend to be gentler than the violent videos being circulated. It can all be very overwhelming but when looking the other way is not an option, art has presented itself as poignant expressions.
What’s also beautiful is that these artists are all of various races, come from different parts of the world and diverse background. Bente van de Wouw, behind @tobehonestnl is Dutch; Shirien Damra of @shireincreates is a Palestinian-American; and Ashley Lukashevsky of @ashlukadraws is a multi-racial artist based in Los Angeles. We’ve pulled together the accounts of artists whose works you might already have seen on your feed. We stan art activism!
Palestinian-American artist Shirien Damra’s illustration of George Flyod has garnered millions of likes and shared widely on Instagram. You probably have seen it by now. Darma’s use of vivid colours in her illustrations speak of hope even in tough times. ““I was afraid that people would only see the video and remember his soul being taken away from him,” said Damra in an interview with Elle. “I wanted to not only have the art for myself to process, but also in the hopes that other people that are facing similar things can identify with it and help them process, too,”
Ashley Lukashevsky is an illustrator and visual artist who brings to life the visions of her ideal world on paper. Needless to say, police brutality has stirred her artistic process to create pieces in reaction to the ongoing protests. No stranger to using her gifted talent for activism, you can feel her anger through her art. If anything, its as pretty as anger can get.
With a whole lot of floral involved, artist-poet Miriam’s digital collages are delicate, heartfelt tributes to the lives lost to police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement. Her vintagey-scrapbook-ish aesthetic is also a tad bit nostalgic. Miriam’s works really does the job in making one feel a whole lotta feelings.
It was Nikkolas Smith’s portrait of George Floyd that Michelle Obama shared on her Instagram feed to address police brutality and racism in America. If you were unfamiliar with Smith’s works, you might at first glance think take them for oil paintings. They are, however, digital paintings he creates in about two hours – just about the same time for his works to go viral online.
In the wake of a movement, getting educated about the cause is incredibly important for progress to happen. Danielle Coke’s illustrations have played in a huge part in sharing information effectively for the masses to consume. As simple as it can get, her illustrations are not only super cute but also super educational.
Words look a whole lot more appealing illustrated in colours than it does in plain black and white text. With so much being said and shared on Instagram in the last few days, Jess Birds’ illustrations will definitely capture your attention when you’re scrolling through your feed.
What To Read Next: The Anti-Racist Documentaries You Can Watch on Netflix Right Now, I Understand that I Will Never Understand and A Running List of Black-Owned Fashion Brands That Need To be On Your Radar | Cover Image: Qide Sim.