Visual art has historically been an essential vessel through which people have advocated for social change. In light of the Black Lives Matter movement, the creation of visual art has again taken on this function of being a facilitator of protest, a channel for outrage and a symbol of defiance. Here is a brief synopsis of the work of some Black creatives who are spearheading the fight for racial equality and freedom:
Dani Coke (Instagram: @ohhappydani) is an Atlanta-based artist who combines colourful graphics with carefully chosen phrases in her educational art pieces concerning the issue of systemic racism. Her art is simplistic and non-confrontational in appearance. Speaking to Insider about the logic behind her work, she stated, “people are more willing to listen to hard things if they’re pretty.” The impact of her art comes from its simplicity. To date she has amassed over 444,000 followers on Instagram.
The work of war veteran and photographer Michael A. McCoy (Instagram: @michaelamccoyphotography) has been frequently used in articles surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement. He says of his work, “there’s nothing left to do but document these times,” and clearly defines his position, stating that “if these stories [of racial oppression] aren’t told, I feel like I failed my part as a journalist, as a black American.” He captures racial tensions, documenting from the frontline of Black Lives Matter protests. In one particularly evocative piece, McCoy can be seen in the reflection of a half-opened police car window whilst he is staring at a white police officer, who is reading an article visibly entitled “If black lives really mattered… they’d stop shooting each other!”. His photography can also be accessed on his website: michaelamccoyphotography.com.
Lina Iris Viktor (Instagram: @linairisviktor) is a conceptual artist, performance artist and painter based in New York. Her trilogy of paintings, Materia Prima, explores the feminine form through layering dark canvases with 24-carat gold gilding. She describes her life’s work as being “founded on an examination of the political and historical preconceptions of “Blackness”, liberation and womanhood.” The British-Liberian artist’s work has been exhibited at prestigious locations including Somerset House in London, New Orleans Museum of Art and the Harvard Art Museums, to name a few.