Los Angeles, CA — Since the death of George Floyd, artists throughout the country are transforming boarded-up buildings and city walls as their canvasses to display messages of hope and healing.
Young artists at the forefront of this movement are using their creativity as a form of activism. In Southern California, Paint the City Peaceful, a grassroots organization, recently gathered young artists to paint murals on the wooden boards with messages of hope, peace and solidarity.
"Art is the best form of activism," said Jamil Basheer, a Southern California artist. "It gives you a chance to learn something new, express your emotions, cherish a moment, or you can tell a story with it. And it’s all without saying anything or touching anyone physically."
The mural project started with an Instagram story and spiraled through social media into a gathering of over 150 artists and includes portraits of Floyd and Breonna Taylor, along with cartoons and inspirational quotes.
Paint the City Peaceful aims to expand their work by engaging artists throughout Southern California and other states. Organizers say they hope to eventually put all of the murals together into a permanent installation.
YR Media talked to young artists to who are using their talent to try and spread positive messages in this moment of racial reckoning.
Alli Conrad, 24, Singapore
“I named the mural ‘Stronger Together,’ and I didn't put any words. Art is so simple, but also so impactful without using many words.
“It's kind of just a showcase of how when everyone acts together as a community, we're stronger together. In dark times, the light always seems to shine through, bringing the community together because we, as global citizens, are stronger together”
Cali Rockowitz, 30, Los Angeles
“Art brings a sense of unity to things. It connects people from different cultures, different backgrounds, different viewpoints. In this specific movement, unity is what we need and I think art is one of the best ways to encourage it.”
Jamil Basheer, 27, West Hills, Calif.
“A canvas needs color to make a painting. So that’s how I feel about society; it needs color to make progress.”
“I like to focus on enlightenment, so I hope that when people see my work it will teach them something that they haven’t been told. Or maybe they’ll see something they haven’t seen before.”
Elizabeth Greenberger, 30, Pittsburgh
“[Art] can be used as a tool to empower communities and audiences to bring about social change. I hope people will look at my art and just smile and feel peaceful and happy. I want to connect them to a feeling of being a kid again, the feeling of unfiltered, natural, positive imagination.
“I feel that it (art) can help people of every different background think, engage, feel and eventually lead them to take action.”