Artists square up to racial injustice via Instagram
In recent weeks, mass protests and demonstrations have been staged across the US and worldwide following a series of recent killings in the US including Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd.
In this time, Instagram has become a space for the global community to move in solidarity, towards a single mission: to demonstrate that black lives matter. The official Instagram account of Black Lives Matter – an international movement founded in 2013 – has now garnered 2.9 million followers and counting.
Many posts across Instagram have come from artists and creatives, making new work, or recontextualising historical pieces to respond to, and give a voice to this moment. What has emerged is art’s role, through the globally communicative force of social media to repeat and reinterpret messages that words often fail to articulate.
The content of the last week has proved that art has the power to educate, spark debate, initiate change and speak about racial injustice, as well as take action against it. Many artists and creative bodies are sharing links to charities and resources or directing funds from the sale of their work to Black Lives Matter-related initiatives and organisations. These include the Minnesota Freedom Fund the Black Visions Collective and the 15 Percent Pledge.
Here are just some of the many voices using their visual language to express the collective rage, resistance and solidarity of this moment and beyond, reinforced through art.
Hank Willis Thomas – artist
Fahamu Pecou – artist
Mark Clennon – photographer
Jammie Holmes – artist
#JammieHolmes’ aerial demonstration was featured in @TMagazine: ‘George Floyd’s Final Words, Written in the Sky’ by #HilaryMoss. Tap the link in bio to read more! On Saturday afternoon, a small plane glided past the Statue of Liberty in New York with a banner that read, “They’re Going to Kill Me.” These were among the last words of #GeorgeFloyd, a black man who was killed while in the custody of the Minneapolis Police Department on May 25. Similar banners, each emblazoned with more of Floyd’s final words, billowed behind planes above a handful of cities across the United States: The sentence “Please I Can’t Breathe” could be seen circling downtown Detroit while “My Stomach Hurts” loomed overhead in Miami; the phrase “My Neck Hurts,” flying atop a peaceful protest in Dallas, made local news as “Everything Hurts,” stood out against the gray Los Angeles sky. “I thought this was a better way of getting the message out” than taking action on the ground, he said in a phone interview, mentioning that plane banners are mostly used in the area where he lives to advertise for golf tournaments. After watching some of the footage of the now former police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck as he pleaded for his life and finally became unresponsive, Holmes approached #LibraryStreetCollective, a gallery that began representing him in April, to back the idea. It all came together in 48 hours. The artist described the project as “an act of social conscience and protest.” #BlackLivesMatter @JHolmes214 #JammieHolmes #JHolmes @TMagazine #LibraryStreetCollective⠀
Mona Chalabi – data journalist
BUY BLACK. Your protests and donations are crucial right now but so is long-term economic change. This is a resource that you can bookmark and return to, so tag your favorite black-owned businesses below (can only tag a max of 20 in the image). Sources: Annual Business Survey 2017 (released May 2020), Robert Fairlie, an economics professor at the University of California at Santa Cruz May 2020, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, April 2020, Center for Responsible Lending, April 2020 Thank you @aurorajames for prompting this research. Go to @15percentpledge to sign the petition and find out more. #buyblack
Nikkolas Smith – artist
Jarrett Key – artist
Fuzzed Up Bear – artist
Calida Garcia Rawles – painter, in collaboration with Diedrick Brackens – textile artist
Where to begin... We’re all feeling it, helplessness in the face of tragedy after tragedy. Along with the unrest unfolding in Minneapolis, we’re all watching folks stand firmly on the frontlines across the country and around the world as they do their part to make a difference. Even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, people everywhere continue taking to the streets, risking everything, to fight for justice. As artists, it’s important to us to provide assistance to those who want change and are also, in need of a helping hand. __ Diedrick Brackens and I have created a limited-run of posters to raise funds to support the following organizations (swipe left). With proof of your direct donation of $100 or greater to one of these efforts, you will receive a poster from both of us. __ If you’re able to join us, please make your donation via the link in my bio and email your receipt to email@example.com __ #DiedrickBrackens #CalidaRawles #GeorgeFloyd #BreonnaTaylor #AhmaudArbery #TonyMcdade #TakeAction #BlackLivesMatter #Minnesota #protest #louisville
Greg Ruth – artist
The 52 Weeks Project presents ERASED #2 "BREONNA". Breonna Taylor (1993- 2020) Murdered by police officers in her own home during a disputed no-knock raid. She was shot 8 times. 9" x 12" graphite on paper. The series ongoing as well as important causes that need your support here: https://www.gregthings.com/copy-of-animals
Lorna Simpson – artist
Arrests and convictions of all individuals involved in lynch mobs and all acts of hate, an end to police brutality and murder of black people and massive massive change to a dangerously unjust justice system. As @zorasc says to me it ain’t even close to being a justice system... it’s system of destruction.
Deborah Roberts – artist
Adam Pendleton – artist
Eric Rieger (Hot Tea) – artist
Today all 4 police involved in the death of #georgefloyd have been charged. This is a small step toward justice but we still have a long way to go for equal rights. Thank you @askovfinlayson & @ericdayton for taking a stand against inequalities and using your platform for good. Also thank you to Devin, Shannon, Laura, Jason, Madeline, Juan, Declan and Eva for all of your help. This mural definitely took a village and I’m grateful for that.