5 beautiful projects by black artists
The Black Lives Matter movement first began to gain traction in 2013 following the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the shooting of African-American teen, Trayvon Martin. Seven years later and it’s painfully clear that not much has changed, with 2020 seeing more innocent black men and women being killed at the hands of the police, and more worldwide protests.
Each and every one of us is faced with a choice. Do we carry on as we are and let things blow over until the next George Floyd, Breonna Taylor or Rayshard Brooks? Or do we support the movement now, in any way we can? It’s the responsibility of all of us to not let this issue fade away but to keep it in our consciousness as we lead our lives. The important thing to remember is that support can be given in lots of ways. You can attend protests, educate yourself, or have difficult conversations with friends.
Supporting black artists is another great way to empower the movement. Point 6 has collated five beautiful projects by black artists for you to check out.
Yinka Ilori’s awesome collection
Yinka Ilori takes your ‘splash of colour’ and raises you a flood of colour. Ilori is of British-Nigerian heritage, and his work takes inspiration from both sides of his cultural identity — think bold, bright colours, contemporary designs, and a fun, evocative flavour. From upcycling furniture nearly 10 years ago, he has now been commissioned by some of the world’s biggest brands, like Pepsi, Adidas and Selfridges.
Ilori’s work is loud and fun, and the marriage of colour and geometry harks back to the Memphis Milano style which was popular in the 80s. Our favourite is his immersive ‘Playland’ at the Cannes Lion Festival in 2019. Commissioned by Pinterest, the palette used is indicative of the social media app’s users’ most pinned colours. The patterns are African inspired, and the layout is designed to reflect the dichotomy between London’s skyscrapers and council estate playgrounds. Visitors are encouraged to roam around and use their imagination as they explore the space, colours and shapes.
Check out more of Yinka’s work at his website.
Francesca Miya’s inspiring prints
Put simply, Francesca Miya’s work is absolutely beautiful. With stunning designs and powerful imagery, her prints pay homage to the Black Lives Matter movement, act as a tribute to victims of police brutality and racism, and promote equality and unity between people of all races. Alongside the strong, evocative images of women and children, Miya’s prints often feature messages like ‘Let’s grow together’ and ‘Let equality bloom’, which complement the floral designs she favours and executes so elegantly.
The one that keeps catching our eyes as I scroll through her work is the ‘Let’s grow together’ print I’ve just mentioned (see above). The image of the three fists raised, all portrayed as having different skin tones, speaks of defiance and harmony — we stand strong together and no one can ever stop that. The way the fists appear to rise out of the foliage, like a phoenix rising from the flames, gives a sense of momentum and optimism — it gives hope that a new age of equality is dawning.
Afterlives of Slavery, Tropenmuseum
It’s often said that the reason we study history is to learn from the mistakes we’ve made in the past and make sure they’re not repeated in the future. But one thing we don’t learn enough about is colonialism. We’re told of all the things we brought to Africa, but less focus is given to the things we ripped away — whether that be physical resources like minerals and ivory or the intangibles of freedom and independence.
The Dutch, like the British, have a shameful past when it comes to colonising parts of Africa for their own gain. In a bid to raise awareness of this period of history, Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam is hosting an exhibition called Afterlives of Slavery. In collaboration with scientists, activists and artists, visitors are presented with both an exhibition and a discussion platform that places the stories of the enslaved and their descendants centre stage. Dynamic, vibrant and accessible, it brings the past to life in a way you can’t — and shouldn’t — ignore.
Afterlives of Slavery connects us with the realities of today through contemporary spoken word video pieces and displays that celebrate the achievements and highlight the ongoing struggles of direct descendants of slaves today living with the legacy of Dutch colonialism. It’s an exhibition that ultimately aims to expose and intensify the experiences of slaves and use this feeling to initiate a difficult but productive dialogue between people of all races, creeds and colour.
Grab your tickets here.
I May Destroy You
Wow. Just wow. That’s the reaction of most people I’ve spoken to who’ve had the pleasure of gorging on Michaela Coel’s masterpiece this summer. Coel, who you may recognise from her Channel 4 comedy, Chewing Gum (available on Amazon Prime if you’re not in the UK) has really served up something special with I May Destroy You.
In this “not entirely fictional” (as Coel puts it) drama, Arabella (played by Coel) is drugged and raped while at a bar with her friends. Throughout the series, we follow Arabella as she grapples with her blurred recollection of her attack and battles her emotions as she desperately tries to come to terms with what’s happened to her. Her friends, Kwame (Paapa Essiedu) and Terry (Weruche Opia), who are also victims of sexual assault, do their best to support her whilst struggling with their own experiences.
The series is an unfiltered glimpse into the psychological damage sexual assault can cause. It’s beautifully portrayed by Coel, and her signature sense of humour injects some perverse comedy into a dark but important subject matter. After all, humour is a way in which lots of people deal with trauma. It makes the whole show feel very real. And of course, for many women (and men — look out for Kwame’s heart-breaking storyline) it is real.
It was an uncomfortable watch at times — but uncomfortable in a way that only the most raw, thought-provoking art can make you feel. We’re forced to confront our own beliefs and behaviours, while analysing what rape is, what it means, and the devastating effects it can have. Sexual abuse is not just violent attacks by strangers, there’s levels and nuance, and only through talking and listening about these issues can things get better. I May Destroy You is the perfect catalyst for those kind of conversations.
Watch the whole series on BBC iPlayer; you won’t regret it.
New York street art
Street art has always played an important part in society. By using the city as a canvas, the art feels like its owned by the people. It lives and breathes as society changes. We see images crossed out and replaced with new ones, creating a timeline of people’s sentiments. In New York, residents have produced pieces of art that celebrate the lives of those killed by the police and those who are devoting their lives to positive change and activism.
Any words written here would only dilute the powerful message behind each piece, so I’ll let the pictures do the talking…
Check out the first edition of Point 6’s Creative Waffle blog where we celebrate the creativity of artists from all backgrounds.