Art & Protest: Creatives Respond to Racism & Police Brutality

Art & Protest: Creatives Respond to Racism & Police Brutality


Art & Protest: Creatives Respond to Racism & Police Brutality

Creatives around the world are honoring the lives lost in police hands, calling for justice, and showing the protests in their true light.

Creatives around the world are honoring the lives lost in police hands, calling for justice, and showing the protests in their true light.

Text: Sam Ford

Nina Simone once said that "An artist's duty, as far as I'm concerned, is to reflect the times." As painters, sculptors, musicians, street artists, and more around the world stand in solidarity with the protests against systemic racism and police violence, Simone's words have come back to life.

Since George Floyd's death on May 25th, people from every American state and over 15 other countries have taken to the street, demanding an end to the brutality and inequality inflicted upon people of color. Artists are following suit in the form of murals depicting Floyd, paintings of scenes from the protests, and graphic designs calling for justice of other black live's lost in police custody—Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Sandra Bland, and too many more.

Scroll through the pictures below to see artworks honoring the black lives that have been taken, and feel moved to join in on the fight towards ending systemic racism.

Láolú Senbanjo @laolunyc

In an interview with HYPEBEAST, Senbanjo said, "I want my art to help all of us to instigate, remember, imagine, discuss, and express these complex experiences and feeling states. So much is and remains unspoken. This is difficult work, and art is necessary at every stage."

Ashley R. Smith @arswithlove

Smith, who's the owner and founder of Young Black Artists, also told HYPEBEAST, "From my perspective, I see many artists who may have been hesitant about using their gift as a form of protest finally making a statement with their work. As someone who was always afraid to use my art in this way, I finally felt empowered to do so this week. I believe this is a trend that will continue in the art world."

Brionya J. Matthews @godtaughtartist

Matthews is just one of the talents featured on Ashley R. Smith's Young Black Artists, with paintings that depict real life photographs and honor the past. See another powerful work from Matthews here.

Mithsuca Berry

Kambui Olujimi @kambuiolujimi

Featured in The Guardian, Brooklyn based artist Olujimi explained their decision in painting the burning of Minneapolis's third precinct. "There’s a popular notion that riots are just spontaneous outbursts of emotion, a visceral response to a single incident, but they are not. These actions are the result of persistent and untenable conditions that are willfully ignored, what I call the ‘silent-state riot’. I wanted to make something that will not allow us to forget this moment, and the countless lives that have led to this."

Marilyn Minter @marceldzama

Renown New York artist Marilyn Minter painted this viral picture of President Trump, but added the truth that laid behind it. When posting the painting above on Instagram, Minter commented, "Another obvious charade from this cruel reality show stunt president, he had law enforcement used tear gas and rubber bullets on peaceful protesters so that he could have a photo op. posing in front of the historic St. John’s Church with bible in hand."

Michelle Robinson

Rinny Perkins @rinnyriot

Artist Rinny Perkins created a massive Instagram following for herself with '70s-inspired graphic designs that empower women of color. Thus she spoke her mind on what it means to be a good ally; "Real interesting to see non-black 'friends' go about their days as normal as if urging non-black people to speak up and utilize their privilege to fight injustices against black people doesn’t apply to them... Having 1 or 2 black friends whose lives and safety you won’t even bother to advocate for is NOT activism. It does not make us feel safe. Use your privilege to do the work. Not just when it’s a trending hashtag. If your activism stops after 48 hours, it’s not activism. It’s performative allyship theatre."

Antoinette Thomas @theantoinettethomas

Of the work pictured above, Thomas said, "I drew this when I saw footage of that Black couple being yanked out of their car and tased. These pigs skipped cars with whites in them to terrorize Black people over a curfew they had JUST placed. This isn’t going to stop. If it’s not clicking yet for you because it’s not someone you know or identify with being involved, then I don’t know when those dots will connect."

Monica Ahanonu


POC Online Therapy Sessions, Are You Taking Care of Yourself?
A few resources offering free crisis counseling for POC and information about mental health.