Black Creatives Drive Change Through 'Art Is Revolution'

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Black Creatives Drive Change Through 'Art Is Revolution'
October 10, 2020
Above: One of Mawhyah Milton’s pieces.

 

2020 has been a year like no other, with a racial reckoning that’s inspired transformative Black art. In this immersive 3D virtual exhibit, you can explore pieces from multidisciplinary Black artists calling out injustice and providing hope through their groundbreaking work.

 

Art and media are powerful catalysts for change, and in a year marked by the fight for racial justice, the work of Black artists feels more poignant than ever.

 

HuffPost has teamed up with RYOT, Verizon Media’s immersive storytelling production house, and All Black Creatives, a foundation and agency that celebrates and empowers Black creatives to bring you a unique virtual exhibit we’re calling “Art Is Revolution (AIR).”

 

This immersive 3D exhibit showcases the work of groundbreaking Black artists in a year of racial reckoning, curated by Danielle Elise, founder of All Black Creatives.

 

“In this moment — an election, a global pandemic, a corporate cultural awakening — as Black folks, our bodies and minds are stretched thin,” Elise said. “Not only are we stretching to survive, we are also having to educate and bear the burden of a world around us that is just waking up to the work to be done.”

 

So Elise picked several restorative themes — Lift Every Voice, Healing, Black Joy and Future — and selected 21 artists whose work stood out for “giving image, voice, compassion, honesty, sound, truth and reflection to the revolution,” she said. “Honest art — that’s what I look for.”

 

Each week of this four-part series, you’ll find artwork from multidisciplinary Black creators, including photographers, musicians, writers, poets, sculpturists and more.

 

“Each artist in this show is tied together by the same thread — every single artist possesses a passion and an honesty that I knew this project needed,” Elise said. “Their art IS their revolution. This message rang so clear for every single artist and every piece curated.”

Using a variety of technologies, including drone-captured photogrammetry, we have transformed these artworks into augmented reality exhibits that you can explore and interact with. And you can even use your mobile phone, you can even bring these pieces, virtually, into your own space.

 

The first theme, Lift Every Voice, pays homage to “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” a song — also known as the Black National Anthem — written originally as a poem by NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson.

 

“This theme centers on art that represents the revolution, highlights the Black Lives Matter gatherings in the streets,” Elise said. “Our Black women matter, our Black queer and trans family matters, our Black men matter, and so we ‘lift every voice.’ It is both a call to action and a reflection of that action.”

 

Noel Spiva

Multimedia designer, St. Louis, Missouri

My AIR video highlights so many talented artists featured in a setting that visually announces the connection of art and technology made and created by Black creatives. This piece introduces archival footage of Black painters and sculptors while entering a new platform of today’s artists that are continuing to lead the way.

Above: One of Noel Spiva’s video piece for AIR.

 

It’s the kick-off to the celebration of black voices told through art and sounds that speaks to the time. The music featured in my video is produced by artist Mad Keys, with an accompanying voice of St. Louisan Ohun Ashe amongst a crowd of passionate voices chanting a famous quote by Assata Shakur:

 

“It is our duty to fight for our freedom.
It is our duty to win.
We must love each other and support each other.
We have nothing to lose but our chains.”

 

Jonny Brooks

Photographer, Richmond, Virginia

I strive to capture real life, real moments, and real people. As a Black photographer, I hope to use the camera as a way to magnify Black life, Black culture, and Black creativity at its best.

 

Below: One of Jonny Brooks’ photographs.

Heather Polk

Founder of Art C.U.R.E.S. All, Chicago, Illinois

I create my art from the heart, from my lived experiences, curiosities, and love of magazines, art, and remixed images. My finished pieces are usually a result of conversations, moods and studies of a variety of subject matter.

 

Below: One of Heather Polk’s pieces.

I am very conscious about the visibility of Black people in art and want my work to evoke positive and powerful feelings about Black life. Creativity unleashed rewards every soul. My soul is rewarded every moment I have to sit down and create art.

 

Cami Thomas

Documentary filmmaker and multi-disciplinary artist, Chicago, Illinois

When capturing an image, I love knowing that the person in front of the lens has now been etched into a particular moment in history. As time is moving, and fleeting, I want to do my due diligence as an artist to showcase things as they currently are while adorning the design in elements that also show what the future could look like.

Above: One of Cami Thomas’ pieces.

 

These particular pieces allowed me to play with my own feelings of nostalgia for the past and daydreaming of the future. When speaking to my grandfather, my friends, or to children, I feel inspired by the stories of what they’ve overcome. I feel inspired by the light, untouched nature of what we could build in the future.

 

Blackness is often depicted in a way that puts pain at the forefront, but I want to create pieces that make me feel the same way I feel when I’m with my community; hopeful, light, creative, abundant and filled to the brim with love. The pieces feel a bit whimsical as if they’re a fantasy or stills from an elaborate dream, which is true to the nature of the way me and my friends experience life.

 

Mawhyah Milton

Illustrator and painter, New York City

I use my artwork to express vital activism through the lens of a Black woman that words often fail to define. I love using bold color, portraiture and symbolism to illustrate what it means to be Black – the good, the bad and the unexplained.

 

It wasn’t until I joined the AmeriCorps after graduating that I began to learn more in depth about the intersections of oppressive systems and combine what I learned with my own story and the voices of my family and those who look like me. As I became more confident in my voice and myself, my use of color became more vibrant and bolder. Now I use art to contribute to the zeitgeist by creating imagery about human, social, and political issues.

 

My work evolved as it became more true. It has become bolder and louder because I am screaming. The pieces I create, I try to convey as viscerally as possible so anyone looking at it will understand.

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