• Tianyi Jia

The Power of Street Art in Supporting BLM Movement

Art is all about expression and freedom. The strength of street art lies in its ability to amplify overlooked voices to the world. Street art has always been a medium to protest against political or social injustice throughout history; this time is no exception. In response to the murder of George Floyd, mural artists around the world have utilized this unique medium to speak against racial injustice.


It felt like a really good way for me to support what was going on when I couldn’t be at the protest. - Cassandra Orion, Oakland
We’re connecting and we’re using our art as a force of social change, we’re saying enough is enough.” Shishi, Oakland


Chalk Mural Outside the Milwaukee Art Museum

On June 7, the street outside the Milwaukee Art Museum became the most beautiful place in the city. The event, MKE Unite Chalk the Sidewalk, summoned artists of all ages to support the BLM movement through art. The chalk mural was about 200 feet long and 30 feet wide; the mural contained the powerful voices of people of all ages, even those of the youngest children.


Oakland Murals on Boarded-up Storefront

To prevent future destruction due to violent protests, many businesses located in downtown Oakland boarded up their storefront windows and doors. Artists turned the wooden boards into canvases, creating graffiti art that advocated the BLM movement. Some of the murals were portraits, others were names or statements; but all were representations of the artists’ voice in their fight for justice.



Street Mural in Uptown Charlotte, Carolina

On June 22, a team of 22 mural artists along with volunteers painted the “BLACK LIVES MATTER” across S. Tryon Street.

Each letter was painted individually with its own special meaning. For examples:

Dammit Wesley painted the first letter “B”. Looking closely, a quote is inscribed at the top of the letter - “Do I not matter? Will I ever? Why won’t you love me America?” Wesley chose to paint Storm from the X-Men in the letter to depict the plight of African Americans.




The following letter “L” was painted by Dakotah Aryanna. Her design portrayed a “flower person” because she “believes all black people are wildflowers because of [their] adaptability to regrow wherever the world tries to place or throw [them]”.





Street arts supporting BLM were not limited in the United States; many could be seen all around the world.


In Toronto, Canada In Karachi, Pakistan In Berlin, Germany


In Manchester, United Kingdom In Strombeek-Bever, Belgium In Kibera slum, Nairobi


In Naples, Italy In Glasgow, Scotland In Grenoble, France

Art is a language without borders. Artists have created a communication platform to connect everyone around the world to support the BLM movement and bring change to end this societal issue.


 

References:

https://www.sfgate.com/living-in-sf/slideshow/TayJay-203384.php

https://www.artisticfuel.com/public-art/black-lives-matter-street-mural/

https://www.mercurynews.com/2020/06/07/george-floyd-protests-oakland-murals-channel-movement-on-boarded-up-windows/

https://www.wuwm.com/post/chalk-mural-outside-milwaukee-art-museum-hopes-show-beauty-protest-movement#stream/0

https://fox6now.com/2020/06/07/beautiful-messages-hundreds-share-emotion-through-art-during-mke-unite-chalk-the-sidewalk-event/

https://www.mercurynews.com/2020/06/07/george-floyd-protests-oakland-murals-channel-movement-on-boarded-up-windows/

https://www.usatoday.com/picture-gallery/news/nation/2020/06/06/murals-honor-george-floyd-and-black-lives-matter-movement/3164531001/

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