Spreading Awareness through Artistic Expression


Wes Hack

(Artwork by Wes Hack, @whaackart on Instagram) EXPRESSING INJUSTICE THROUGH ART- Any art form, whether it be painting, drawing, photography, or writing, has the ability to open people’s hearts and minds to whatever is being communicated in the work. “Making activist art means giving a voice to those who have been silenced…” Cat said.

Kate De La Torre, Broadcast Editor

2020: A year full of impatience, anger, ignorance, and injustice. During the midst of an ongoing pandemic, it feels like the greater pandemic is America’s systemic failures. Though times have been tough, speaking up towards social injustices has never been more important.

Except, what is speaking up? How can you voice your opinion effectively and powerfully? You can do so in many ways, for instance, protesting, advocating on social media, having difficult conversations with your racist family members, or simply allowing those who are oppressed to speak their minds without interruption.

Additionally, you can also speak your mind with expression through art.

Meaningful art is meant to spark curiosity about its meaning; even so, it is also meant to express the feelings and emotions of the artist with powerful imagery or text. “What I like to focus on in my artwork is less about the injustice and more about bringing justice forward…” Wesley Haack (@whaackart), a 26-year-old transgender artist/printmaker based in Oakland, California, said.

Wesley is an artist who mainly focuses his art on social justice, racial justice, and intersectionality. An example of this would be his woodblock carving titled, Elder at 37, which touches on the life of Tony Mcdade, a transgender man who was murdered by police at age 37 in May of 2020. His art is a form of expressing his feelings and bringing justice forward, but also the beauty that once existed in the lives of those who have faced unlawful deaths.

The coverage that the media brings towards injustices like those of Mcdade can often be seen as another tragedy that supports the statistics of Black people being more prone to police brutality. However, Haack’s work serves as a reminder that although injustice is painful, the people he depicts in his artworks are beautiful; they deserve to be known as so much more than just a headline.

Injustices that occur in the United States don’t only influence American youth to push for justice, they also influence people located all over the world.  Areej Faisal (@aartej), a 15-year old artist from Karachi, Pakistan, has taken in America’s injustices and created art to help spread awareness in her community. She has also used art to voice the injustices that occur in China,  which is north of Pakistan. The injustices include the holding of Uyghur Muslims in concentration camps by the Chinese government.

“My goal is to catch people’s attention and make them aware and [impact them]…” Faisal said, “…I don’t have any real power, but I can [still] impact someone…” Although Faisal has made artwork based on the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, she has also made artwork on a separate injustice that affects Uyghur Muslims in China who are being held in re-education camps by the Chinese government.

Cat (@cupofcreative.co), a 21-year-old artist based in Los Angeles, California, also shares the same goal as Areej. “I hope to teach empathy and fight ignorance through my artivism (art + activism) – to gain new allies, teach others my perspective as a person of color, and spread awareness.”

She has an Instagram page with over 10 thousand followers, where she shares her minimalistic digital artworks with her followers. Her work focuses almost entirely on activism, with long educational captions accompanying her empowering social justice drawings.

“Making art means expressing my deepest emotions, which cannot be expressed through normal conversation. Making activist art means giving a voice to those who have been silenced… I also view it as recording history,” Cat said. Not only does she make artwork that effectively spreads awareness, but she donates to various social justice nonprofits with the sale of her art merch on www.cupofcreative.co.

Donations can also be a great way to support organizations that dedicate their time to benefitting communities that face social injustices. For instance, Juliana Mbang Woods (@julianawoods), an 18-year-old artist based in upper Marlboro, Maryland, hosted a painting charity raffle on her Instagram account for an artwork titled “Mother Mourning.”

This work depicts a Black woman with large mahogany curls, surrounded by red butterflies and ferns, as she cries gold. Her piece stems from Kendrick Lamar’s album, To Pimp a Butterfly, where he describes racial bias in America. “As Kendrick does, I’d hope to influence young folks who care about such issues through my relatable works,” Woods said.

The painting also shares inspiration from the film, Black is King, as well as her own experiences as a half-Black woman.

There are many ways to voice an opinion effectively–one of them being through art. Art can communicate the most powerful message, and it can influence the community around you in a positive way, so go out and make a difference with art, as artist David Le Batard said, “I think the role of the artist is, is to take whatever it is they believe and put it out there so the public can see it.”