Black Lives Matter Launches a New Cultural Initiative to Showcase the Work of African-American Artists
Black Lives Matter is entering the art world. The activist movement, which campaigns against systemic racism and violence towards black people, is launching an ambitious new arts platform and merchandise shop to showcase emerging and established African-American artists.
Speaking to Hollywood Reporter, BLM leader Patrisse Cullors said the group’s art and culture initiative serves the dual purpose of raising funds to support the movement while simultaneously supporting historically marginalized artists of color. “Black Lives Matter Arts and Culture uplifts artists who are staging cultural interventions and changing the world through their work,” Cullors told the magazine.
The group launched the initiative online on Thursday by offering a limited-edition print and tote bags designed by former culture minister of the Black Panther Party Emory Douglas, priced at an affordable $99. The site also includes items such as T-shirts, mugs, hats, baby onesies, at various price points.
Both the prints and tote bag will be available in a pop-up booth at BLM’s ComplexCon booth in Los Angeles this weekend, which will also include a selection of new works by artists Damon Davis, Carlos Garcia, and Oto Attah, curated by Cullors.
Cullors said the chosen artists are “critical to transforming the way we relate to the world and to ourselves.” She highlighted Davis as an artist who depicts black people as deities. “He created a pantheon called ‘The Darker Gods’ that is visual, musical, and deeply spiritual,” Cullors explained. “In a time where black lives are constantly under attack and plagued by trauma and death, Davis’s work speaks to the type of depth and resilience necessary for black people to thrive.”
Black Lives Matter was founded in the wake of the acquittal of George Zimmerman, who shot and killed unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida in 2012. Now a global movement, BLM regularly holds protests around issues ranging from racial profiling and police brutality to mass incarceration and racial inequality in the criminal justice system.