Throughout history, art has been used to challenge hierarchies and protest the status quo. This is still true today. Following the murder of George Floyd, there has been an uprising in support of Black lives led by the Black Lives Matter movement in America and around the world. As millions use their voices to protest injustice, artists are following suit, using their brushes and other tools to create powerful art exposing police violence and systemic racism in America.

Using murals, portraits, and sculptures, artists are delivering political messages through powerful imagery within their art. Below are 17 of these artists.

1.Errin Donahue

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The Monae Lisa: What started as a way to calm me down after these gut-wrenching, emotional, hopeful and crushing days is becoming a series about replacing our history—in these paintings, through appropriation, as our culture has been appropriated. Though more in the vein of alternate reality a la @nkjemisin, the title is inspired by @janellemonae and her radically imaginative Afrofuturism (and I love her for big-upping our #nonbinary siblings). Also, a big thanks to @bust_magazine for featuring women’s art on your back page and to @essence for your winter issue with #ReginaKing about black women in the art world – both are inspiring and needed (especially when all you wanna do is huddle in a ball and cry)! . . . . #blackartasprotest #artasprotest #blacklivesmatter #blackexcellence #blackgirlmagic #reclaimingblack #blackifiedart #vermeerremix #blackwomenmatter #blackart #fuckwhitesupremacy #nkjemisin #blm #monalisa #justiceforgeorgefloyd #protest #justice #racism #nojusticenopeace #icantbreathe #policebrutality #black #blackgirlmagic #equality #art #blackhistory #lgbt #feminist #melanin

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Based in New York, Errin Donahue is an artist and photographer. In her work, she recreates famous works of art with Black women. Inspired by “Janelle Monae and her racially imaginative Afrofuturism”, the portrait above is titled ‘The Monae Lisa’.

2.Nikkolas Smith

Freelance artist Nikkolas Smith has recently been working on pieces that relate to police brutality. He began sketching as a hobby but his artwork soon went viral and he quit his job as a Disney Imagineer to focus on art. During the Black Lives Matter protests, Smith posted a sketch of Ahmaud Abery on his Instagram, with the caption “…Today I sketch injustice. Today I paint a prayer… “If I shall die before my run, I pray the Lord my case is won.”

3.Ariel Sinha

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BLACK TRANS LIVES MATTER. Just this week, two Black trans women, Riah Milton and Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells we’re violently murdered. And then yesterday, in the middle of pride month, on the fourth anniversary of the Pulse nightclub attack, the president took away protections for trans people. It’s not enough to say their names. We must keep standing up and fighting for trans lives and rights. . . Please share this post, repost, print for protest signs, print for home signs—use this artwork to raise awareness, but I’m trusting that you please do not repurpose or resell it for any personal monetary gain. THANK YOU! ❤️ . . If you are in Chicago, please consider donating to @bravespacealliance. Here are more trans-supporting organizations referred by @janetmock that I urge you to follow and donate to if you can: @tgijustice @snap4freedom @sylviariveralawproject @theokraproject @blacktranstravelfund @missmajor1 @transjusticefp @glits_inc @youthbreakout @mpjinstitute @transgenderdistrict #blacktranslivesmatter #blacklivesmatter #protectblacktranswomen #riahmilton #remmiefells #dominiquefells #dominiqueremmiefells

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Based in Chicago, Ariel Sinha is an artist, designer, and improviser. After hearing about the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, Sinha decided to challenge the anger and sadness she felt into her artwork. Using her iPad, she drew portraits of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. In the image above, Sinha drew Riah Milton and Rem’mie Fell, Black trans women who were murdered with the caption, “…Yesterday, in the middle of pride month, on the fourth anniversary of the Pulse nightclub attack, the President took away protections for trans people. It’s not enough to say their names. We must keep standing up and fighting for trans lives and rights.”

 

4.Molly Crabapple

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One of the functions of the New Sanctuary Coalition accompaniment program is to bear witness for our friends, and, to let those in power–immigration judges, ICE officers, and government attorneys know that we are watching and holding them accountable. “When photography is unavailable or inappropriate, drawing can act as witness, and produce subjective commentary on injustice. Often less explicit than photographs, drawings can prompt a more wide-ranging debate about miscarriages of justice and conflict, and act as tools to prompt social change.”–From the show, Graphic Witness We are launching the, “Drawing as Resistance” program as a way for volunteers to not only observe, but to participate–by drawing as an act of resistance. The two-hour salon/teach-in will be led by artists, Molly Crabapple and Meryl Ranzer. The program, open to those who have completed New Sanctuary Coalition's Accompaniment Training will begin with a brief history of courtroom sketch art and talks by each of the artists, followed by a Q&A roundtable and drawing workshop to give participants confidence to draw in the courtroom from whatever level they are at.

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Award-winning journalist illustrator and author of Drawing Blood and Brothers of the Gun, Molly Crabapple’s work has been published in The New York Times, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, and The New Yorker. She began her journalistic career by sketching illustrations of Occupy Wall Street, and then eventually covered Guantanamo Bay, the US border, refugee camps, Lebanese snipers, and more. Molly’s coverage of police brutality and the ongoing protests is available on the NY Review of Books (the images above). She has also helped to launch the “Drawing as Resistance” program as “a way for volunteers to not only observe [what is going on], but to participate–by drawing as an act of resistance.”

5.Banksy

An anonymous England-based street artist, Banksy has used his art for political activism since the ‘90s. He produces pieces of art that pop up in public places, such as the walls of buildings. Banksy has shown support for the Black Lives Matter movement on Instagram, posting his work along with a message, saying “people of color are being failed by the system…This is a white problem. And if white people don’t fix it, someone will have to come upstairs and kick the door in.”

6.Simi Stone

A musical and visual artist and a founding member of the Afro-punk movement, Simi Stone, created a portrait of George Floyd, using her artistry to protest on the canvas. Stone chose bright tints that make Floyd look luminous. Haunted by what had happened to him, Stone wanted to draw him in bright colors.

7.AJ Alper

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TURN ON SOUND Thank you to the nearly 700 portrait artists worldwide who participated and submitted portraits for the George Floyd Portrait Project #GeorgeFloydPortraitProject. The resulting compilation is an amazing array of powerful portraits. Music: America: America the Beautiful/Samuel A. Ward – Cello Performance and Arrangement by Randy Calistri-Yeh. I can’t Breathe: Les Larmes de Jacqueline/Jacque Offenbach – Cello Performance by Maxim Kozlov. Dearly Departed: Ariette/Girolamo Frescobaldi – Cello Performance by Maxim Kozlov Black Lives Matter: Largo/Francesco Maria Veracini – Cello and Piano Performance by Maxim Kozlov Life and Family: “Thaïs” Meditation/Jules Massenet – Cello Performance by Maxim Kozlov A Human Being: Panis Angelicus/César Franck – Cello Performance by Maxim Kozlov

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AJ Alper, a portrait painter, started the social media movement titled #GeorgeFloydPortraitProject to use his voice and Instagram audience to spread awareness about racism. In his project, he did a call out on Instagram, looking for as many portraits as possible to make a video in memory of George Floyd. In the finished piece, attached above, Alper created a compilation video including the nearly 700 artists worldwide who participated and submitted portraits of the project.

8.Adrian Brandon

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Aiyana Stanley-Jones, 7 years old – 7 minutes of color. She was sleeping on her grandmother's couch when police conducted a home raid. After using a flash grenade, Officer Weekley fired one shot killing Aiyana. He claimed there was a struggle with the grandmother which caused his gun to fire. Weekley walked free of both charges including manslaughter and reckless use of firearm. Her family is still dealing with wrongful death lawsuits today, nine years after they lost Aiyana. . . Today is the last day of the series. Aiyana is the youngest life stolen in this series. I still have a dozen other stories that I haven't shared with you. I want to thank y'all for sharing your thoughts on this series and for using my art as a way to spark conversation within your community. Throughout the month I've been flooded with messages expressing how this project moved you. That's what it's all about. My next goal is to have this up for people to see in person, so stay tuned. Message me if you have any leads on spaces/people that might be interested in hosting this series for a bit. If you think it's powerful on Instagram, imagine seeing these all lined up in person. . . #stolenseriesbyab #blackhistorymonth #blackhistory #blacklivesmatter #blackart #blackartist #supportblackart #suppostblackartists #brooklynart #bkart #newyork #art #instaart #artlife #dopeblackart #peoplescreative #onwednesdayswepaint #artist #drawing #illustration #portrait #markers #copic #detroit

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Adrian Brandon is a Brooklyn based artist. On his Instagram, he has started a ‘stolen series’, which is dedicated to “the many black people that were robbed of their lives in the hands of the police.” Brandon uses graphite and ink to draw each portrait but also uses time as a medium to determine how long each portrait is colored in: 1 year of life = 1 minute of color. Brandon says, “I played with the harsh relationship between time and death. I want the viewer to see how much empty space is left in these lives, stories that will never be told, space that can never be filled.”

9.Shane Grammer

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I’m finally adding more photos of my #georgefloyd memorial mural in the #fameyardmelrose at @sportiela This mural is dedicated to all of my precious brothers and sisters who have found themselves the victims of racism. You are precious, loved, needed and vital for our future. We see your pain. We hear your voice. Forgive us for not realizing what was happening. #georgefloyd woke us all up. May his death brand into our souls the importance of loving one another and being sympathetic to another mans trials. RIP George Floyd. I wanted to give a big shoutout and thank you to Pastor Rob and Carolyn and @refuge.rc for your prayers and support on this project. Thank you for paying for the scissor lift! Thank you to @sasrentals for the discount with the scissor lift. Big shout out to Sportie for giving me the wall space to paint this memorial mural. . . . . . . #shanegrammer #shanegrammerarts #shanegrammarartist #georgefloyd #justiceforgeorgefloyd #sportiela #fameyard #fameyardmelrose #lalife #melroseavenue #melroseartsdistrict

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Shane Grammer is a muralist located in Los Angeles. In June, Grammer created a mural of George Floyd. His mural is “dedicated to all of my precious brothers and sisters who have found themselves the victims of racism. You are precious, loved, needed, and vital for our future. We see your pain. We hear your voice.”



10.Lola Lovenotes

[Image Description: colorful mural depicting Breonna Taylor that reads "Justice for Breonna".] Via @lovenotes
[Image Description: colorful mural depicting Breonna Taylor that reads “Justice for Breonna”.] Via @lovenotes
Lola Lovenotes (@lovenotes) is a mural artist and creator in New York City. On Juneteenth, Lovenotes shared a mural she created commemorating Breonna Taylor on Instagram, saying she’s “going to keep to keep painting until she and countless others get the justice they deserve”, following a previous message on Instagram saying, “there have been countless racial injustices against Black women, girls, [transwomen + girls], and yet their names are forgotten. Their murders don’t seem to get the same attention as Black men and boys. When we say Black Lives Matter, we need to make sure Black women are included in our demands for justice too!”.

11.Otha “Vakseen” Davis III

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I hate feeling like this is the most I can do to help celebrate another stolen life💔An innocent kid who played violin for cats in shelters is a threat in America😞 . My newest portrait "Remember Me: Elijah McClain" is a vibrant celebration of Elijah McClain🖤👑 He was murdered by Aurora police August 2019 for simply walking down the street, listening to music……while Black😡 . A YEAR later and we're just hearing about this, while the family has been demanding an investigation all this time! STILL NO #JusticeforElijahMcClain This plague is so much bigger than us but I dont know what else to do. A painting isnt going to end racism. Racism won't end until we're ready to have REAL conversations, self-reflections & make REAL CHANGE🖤Racism won't end until you're tired of ignoring our reality because it doesnt directly impact you. Racism impacts EVERYONE!!!! . Feel free to share & spread the word. Just tag me🙏🏾 . #VakseenArt #BlackLivesMatter

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Based in Los Angeles, Otha “Vakseen” Davis III is a visual artist, curator, and musician. He has done a group of portraits in commemoration of Black lives who have been killed by police brutality, titled “Remember Me:” In the portrait above, titled “Remember Me: Elijah McClain”, celebrates the life of Elijah McClain, an innocent young man who was murdered by police in Colorado. Vakseen writes, “A YEAR later and we’re just hearing about this, while the family has been demanding an investigation all this time…A painting isn’t going to end racism. Racism won’t end until we’re ready to have REAL conversations, self-reflection, and make REAL change.”

12.Sarah Dahir

Sarah Dahir is an artist based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Her Black Lives Matter art, which features faceless women to represent everyone, has been inspired by photographs from the civil rights movement. Below the illustrations, she writes, “the power of the people is stronger than the people in power.”



 

13.Rosanna Morris

Co-founder of Cato Press print studio, Rosanna Morris is located in Bristol U.K. She has created downloadable PDF’s of her Black Lives Matter prints that the public can use, “Put them in your window, take them to your local protest, post them through letterboxes. Do as you like, just please do something more than posting on here. Reach out to your community, your MP, your Granny, and help to do the hard work of change.”

14.Boyd Samuels

Boyd Samuels is a New York-based artist with a focus on oil painting. He “brings the beauty of the African American form onto his canvas and hopes that his art will inspire his viewers to see it as well.”

15.Niamah Thomas

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Today #BreonnaTaylor would've been celebrating her birthday. She would have been 27. She was an EMT in Louisville, Kentucky. Like many of us, she would've woken up to texts and IG stories or FB posts from her friends and loved ones wishing her a happy birthday. Instead, we are mourning and raging about her murder at the hands of police officers. Breonna was shot 8 times by police issuing a "no-knock" warrant on her home. Then they called it a "clerical error". NO. WE DEMAND JUSTICE. 💜 For action items today, please see Noname's twitter post with phone numbers to call & twitter handles to tweet at to demand justice for Breonna: twitter.com/noname/status/1268883656396832768/photo/2 Donate to support Breonna’s loved ones http://bit.ly/BirthdayForBreonna Artwork by FTP Artist Naimah Thomas/ Naimah Creates. ________________________________________________________#breonnataylor #breonnataylorwasmurdered #breonnataylorsayhername #breonnataylorhappybirthday #sayhernamebreonnataylor #sayhername #blacklivesmatter #blackwomenmatter #blklivesmatter #blacklivesmatter✊🏽✊🏾✊🏿 #justiceforbreonnataylor #naimah_creates #birthdayforbreonna

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Niamah Thomas is an artist and art therapist located in Chicago. Thomas, when creating her portrait of Breonna Taylor (pictured above) wanted Taylor to be illustrated as soft but strong, using softer colors and floral imagery. Thomas writes, “Breonna was shot 8 times by police issuing a ‘no-knock’ warrant on her home. Then they called it a ‘clerical error’. NO. WE DEMAND JUSTICE”.

16.Teddy Phillips

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“Manny is the Culture/Justice in his name”⁣ ⁣ On March 3rd, #ManuelEllis died while in the custody of four Tacoma police officers. Three months later, Manuel’s death was ruled a homicide. The cause: hypoxia — a lack of oxygen reaching body tissues — due to physical restraint. He yelled out “I can’t breathe”⁣ ⁣ This happened 30 miles away from me in Tacoma and hits a lot closer to home. After learning of this tragedy, I reached out to his family @m0m0cm_ to help raise awareness and get the proper justice Manny deserves.⁣ ⁣ Please help by spreading the word for Manny Ellis and participating in the call to action. He deserves better!⁣ ⁣ #JusticeForManuelEllis #JusticeForManny⁣

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Teddy Phillips is an artist based in Seattle. He has started a “Justice Series”, which are portraits featured Black men and women who were murdered. One of these portraits, titled “Manny is the Culture/Justice in his name” portrays Manuel Ellis who died while in the custody of four Tacoma police officers.

17.Ryan Adams

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*RIP GEORGE FLOYD* . Much like most days recently, yesterday was a heavy day. My brothers @99centautumngold @richiefromthehill and I spent the day painting a memorial for the black souls who have been taken at the hands of police in this country. Painting the portrait of George Floyd was an honor, but the whole time, I could not help but think about how this is the only way his daughter will be able to see him for the rest of her life. However you choose to act, whether it be self care, education, marching in the streets or expressing yourself through your work, please, please do something. Carry this moment in time and the lessons learned from it forward with you for the rest of your life. 🖤🖤🖤 . . . . . #georgefloyd #ripgeorgefloyd #blacklivesmatter #mural #spraypaint #portlandmaine

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Ryan Adam is an artist located in Maine. His mural of George Floyd in Portland, Maine, is shown in the picture above. He writes, “However you choose to act, whether it be self-care, education, marching in the streets or expressing yourself through your work, please, please do something.”

Similarly to these artists, there are many ways to protest and challenge the structures that allow racism and police brutality to continue. Your responsibility isn’t absolved by reposts on Instagram. Educate yourself and actively challenge these injustices in whatever way you can.

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Clara Scholl

By Clara Scholl

Community Fellow