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These 10 artists are creating stunning images to protest racial injustice

There is a rich history linking artwork and civil rights. Here are a couple of the people helping to illustrate this moment in history.

These 10 artists are creating stunning images to protest racial injustice
[Painting: “PREVAIL” by Michelle Robinson]

Illustrations have the power to take even the most complex ideas and boil them down to something simple and concise. They can take something ordinary and change the way you see the world. And in times of turmoil, this imagery can create unity.

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There is, of course, a rich history linking artists to protest movements and revolutionary politics, as well as propaganda. In the early years of the Labor Movement, posters depicting heroic workers became something to rally behind. The power of graphic design proved equally effective during the first World War when the illustrator James Montgomery Flagg’s “I want YOU” poster become such an effective recruiting tool that it’s still synonymous with our military today. During the Civil Rights Era, the raised black fist became a badge of unity, strength, and power. And most recently, following the formation of Black Lives Matter, artist portraits of the people whose lives have been lost to police brutality have spread on social media, forcing the public to remember the dead as people, not just statistics. 

As the associate art director for Fast Company, I spend my days with words and images. Shuffling them around, finding them homes, and ultimately figuring out a way for them to tell a story, together. But I also like to think of our art as telling its own story—creating a second way for people to connect to our journalism and understand the present. Artwork, in addition to the written word, is how these moments become history. 

Below, we’ve highlighted 10 artists who are using social media to share original images that speak as loudly as the sentiments they represent. Consider buying a print or a T-shirt (100% of the proceeds from Brandy Chieco’s Enough is Enough shirts go to Black Lives Matter), reposting (with credit of course), or clicking around social media to discover more of the art defining our moment.

Michelle Robinson

Reyna Noriega

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Most of us want peace. That won’t come with complacency. That won’t come unless we look in the mirror and really acknowledge how we treat people we deem as “other” in this world. Right now we are fighting for equality that was long over due. But within that we also see the nuance of the voices that get left out. We will continue to march until all injustices have been stomped out. So that the next generation, my beautiful nieces, the children i may one day have can live in a world that knows true peace. True harmony. Diversify your workforce. Be a proactive agent of change. If the events of the last week were your wake up call, if you are just realizing how many voices have gone unheard that you could’ve amplified, make changes. And don’t ever stop. Black Lives, Trans Lives, Black & Brown Immigrant Lives, MATTER. Let’s act like it.

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Temi Coker

Aurélia Durand

Maria Fabrizio

Nikkolas Smith

ODIStudios

Reuben Dangoor

Brandy Chieco

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???? ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! ???? If you aren’t angry about the deaths of #ahmaudarbery #breonnataylor #georgefloyd and countless other black men and women who have died at the hands of a racist, broken system, one of two things is true: 1. You either aren’t paying attention, or 2. You’re part of the problem. If you’re tired of hearing about racism or seeing us speak out against it, imagine how tired people are of experiencing it every. single. day. White and white-passing people: If you want to help but you’re not sure how, start by educating yourself. Knowledge is power. Then, check your privilege. Recognize that, even if your life has been hard, your skin color isn’t one of the things making it harder. And one more thing: stop saying, “I’m not racist because I don’t see color.” First of all, if you aren’t blind, that’s bullshit. Second, when you say you don’t see color, you’re ignoring racism while completely dismissing black history and culture. Stop doing that! See color, learn about it, celebrate it! To everyone hurting right now, I’m with you. I see you, and I’ll do everything I can to be part of the solution. I can promise you that. Sending so much love and light to you. ???? Please feel free to share this in your posts and stories if you’re moved to do so. Just be sure to add an artist credit to the caption so others can find the original piece. Thank you! … … … Edit: Okay, let me be abundantly clear since some folks just don’t seem to get it. This is MY artwork, MY post, on MY profile. As such, I reserve the right to promptly delete any comments that spout nonsense, spread misinformation, or diminish IN ANY WAY the hurt and anger that many of us so rightly feel. By all means, have your opinion. But if you’ve come here to be nasty, you can see yourself out. … … … #blacklivesmatter #sayhisname #sayhername #saytheirnames

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Laura Breiling

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