Black Creatives Drive Change Through ‘Art Is Revolution’
Art and the media are powerful catalysts for change, and in a year marked by the struggle for racial justice, the work of black artists is more poignant than ever.
HuffPost has partnered with RYOT, Verizon Media's formidable storytelling production house, and All Black Creatives, a foundation and agency that celebrates and empowers Black Creatives, to bring you a unique virtual exhibition called Art Is Revolution (AIR) "call.
This stunning 3D exhibition shows the work of groundbreaking black artists in a year of racial reckoning, curated by Danielle Elise, founder of All Black Creatives.
"At this moment - an election, a global pandemic, a corporate cultural awakening - our bodies and minds are stretched thin as blacks," Elise said. "Not only do we stretch to survive, we also need to raise and bear the burden of a world around us that is only just waking up to the job."
So Elise selected several restorative themes - Lift Every Voice, Healing, Black Joy and Future - and selected 21 artists whose work was characterized by "bringing image, voice, compassion, honesty, sound, truth and reflection to the revolution" , she said. "Honest art - that's what I'm looking for."
Each week of this four-part series, you'll find artwork from multidisciplinary black creators, including photographers, musicians, writers, poets, sculptors, and more.
"Every artist on this show is connected by the same thread - every single artist has a passion and an honesty that I knew this project was needed," said Elise. “Your art is your revolution. That message was so clear to every single artist and piece that was curated. "
Click the “Start AR” button above to go to a 3D gallery and click the “Sound On” icon in the top right corner of the screen to hear the artists talk about their work.
On the desktop, use your mouse or touchpad to zoom and rotate any 3D object. On the phone, you can also view the artwork in your own space and walk around it. Use two fingers to resize and rotate each exhibit.
Using a variety of technologies, including photogrammetry captured by drones, we've turned these works of art into augmented reality exhibits for you to explore and interact with. And you can even use your cell phone, you can even virtually bring these parts into your own room.
The first theme, Lift Every Voice, pays homage to "Lift Every Voice and Sing," a song - also known as the Black National Anthem - originally written as a poem by NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson.
"This theme focuses on art that represents the revolution and highlights the gatherings of Black Lives Matter in the streets," said Elise. "Our black women are important, our black queer and trans family affairs, our black men are important, and so we raise every voice. It is both a call to action and a reflection of that action."
Multimedia designer, St. Louis, Missouri
My AIR video features so many talented artists seen in an environment that visually heralds the connection of art and technology made and created by black creatives. This piece introduces archive footage from black painters and sculptors, and enters a new platform for today's artists who continue to lead the way.
Above: One of Noel Spiva's video pieces for AIR.
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It is the prelude to the celebration of the black voices that are told through art and sounds and that correspond to the times. The music in my video is produced by the artist Mad Keys, with an accompanying voice from St. Louisan Ohun Ashe among a crowd of passionate voices singing a famous quote from Assata Shakur:
“It is our duty to fight for our freedom.
It is our duty to win.
We have to love and support each other.
We have nothing to lose but our chains. "
Photographer, Richmond, Virginia
I strive to capture real life, real moments and real people. As a black photographer, I hope to use the camera to enlarge black life, culture, and creativity at its best.
Below: A photograph by Jonny Brooks.
Founder of the arts C.U.R.E.S. Everyone, Chicago, Illinois
I create my art from the heart, from my lived experiences, curiosity and love for magazines, art and remix pictures. My finished pieces are usually the result of conversations, moods and studies on various subjects.
Below: One of Heather Polk's pieces.
I am very aware of the visibility of black people in art and I want my work to evoke positive and powerful feelings about black life. Unleashed creativity rewards every soul. My soul is rewarded every moment I have to sit down and create art.
Documentary filmmaker and multidisciplinary artist, Chicago, Illinois
When I take a picture I love to know that the person in front of the lens has now been engraved at a certain moment in history. As time goes by and is fleeting, as an artist I want to take my care to present things as they are now, while adorning the design with elements that also show what the future might 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 about the future. When I talk to my grandfather, friends, or children, I feel inspired by the stories of what they have overcome. I feel inspired by the light, pristine nature of what we could build in the future.
Blackness is often portrayed with the pain in the foreground, but I want to create pieces that make me feel the same as I do in my community. hopeful, light, creative, plentiful and filled to the brim with love. The pieces feel a bit whimsical, like they're a fantasy or stills from an elaborate dream that matches the way I and my friends experience life.
Illustrator and painter, New York City
I use my artwork to express vital activism through the lens of a black woman that words often don't define. I love using bold colors, portraits, and symbolism to illustrate what it means to be black - the good, the bad, and the unexplained.
Above: One of Mawhyah Milton's pieces.
It wasn't until I joined AmeriCorps after graduation that I learned more about the interfaces between systems of oppression and combined 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 in myself, my color use became more lively and courageous. Now I use art to add to the zeitgeist by creating images about human, social and political issues.
My work developed as it became more true. It's gotten bolder and louder because I'm screaming. I try to convey the pieces I create as viscerally as possible so that everyone who looks at them will understand them.
All images courtesy of the artist.
HuffPost: Ivylise Simones, Creative Director; Jennifer Kho, director of strategic innovation; Francesca Syrett, Global Managing Editor, Video
RYOT WebAR Experiences: Karen Masumoto, Co-Creator / Creative Director; Danielle Jackson, co-creator / art curator; Jake Sally, executive producer; Aisha Yousaf, art director; Guenever Goik, Head of CG; Patrick Love, producer; Matt Valerio, project manager; Christina Douk, lead CG artist; Prabuddha Paul, Visual & 3D Designer; Alexandra Boden, surface artist; Thorsten Bux, WebXR expert and lead engineer; Sean McCall, Immersive Platform Product Manager; Ricky Baba, creative director
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.
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