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Diversify art: The importance of Black artists and Black-owned galleries

While art may be the last on some people’s minds in these turbulent times, it’s also art that might just be what keeps people sane through it all.

This isn’t about your typical mainstream art, but instead the forms of art that have been put to the sidelines over the years, if not decades or even centuries.

Here are some Black artists and black-owned galleries you should be keeping your eyes on, and why they’re so important.

The things not all history books will tell you

The history of Black art in America can technically be traced back to the slave trade, but it’s only recently that Black art and artists as a whole have begun to enter mainstream society. Even so, there still seems to be a lack of widespread information about famous Black artists as opposed to the more “traditional” artistic canon.

Two major events that arguably contributed to the rise of modern Black art, however, include the Harlem Renaissance from 1918-1937, as well as the Black Arts Movement in the 1960s.

Awe-inspiring Artists

Movements like the Harlem Renaissance and the Black Arts Movement have paved the way for artists such as Charles White and Jeff Donaldson, who emerged in the 1960s, but what’s also important to consider is that many more Black artists have continued to emerge since then.

This includes artists such as Deborah Willis, Renee Cox, Mark Bradford, and Lorna Simpson. The latter was also the first Black woman to present art at Venice Biennale, a famous contemporary art exhibit in Italy. Bradford also recently presented there as well back in 2017.

Despite the achievements of these creators, there still seems to be a lack of attention to Black artists. Even those who are famous in the mainstream art world still appear to be less widely-known in comparison to artists such as Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, and Cindy Sherman.

The question is: why? And what can people do to support these marginalized artists?

Time to share the spotlight

It seems because the roots of African-American art are rooted in times when Black people were more marginalized than they are now, it’s set a precedent that persists even to today. Because Black American art originated outside of the American art canon, it was forced to develop outside of it for decades if not centuries. 

While the representation of Black artists has certainly improved in the modern era, there still seems to be a lack of attention to them as well as Black-owned galleries even today.

The key to fixing this issue though is simple. By consuming art made by Black artists, supporting black-owned galleries, and sharing their works, we can start to draw attention to these marginalized artists.

The artists or galleries you wish to support don’t even need to be famous. Spreading word about local creators or galleries is just as vital.

This is especially important in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement, but it shouldn’t stop there. Giving underrepresented creators, no matter what race or ethnicity, doesn’t just help them in breaking out into the mainstream art scene.

If you’re looking for venues to support, here are some Black-owned galleries you can help in these difficult times.

The beautiful thing about art and the creative community surrounding it is how it inspires other people. Diversifying the contemporary art scene will not just create a more enriched variety of artwork, but perhaps it may even inspire a new and more diverse generation of future artists.

The stage in the digital age: How theaters are adapting to the COVID crisis

There’s a saying in show business: “the show must go on.” But what happens when most shows can’t go on because of a pandemic?

Here are ways some theaters and performing arts groups are taking the stage to the digital age and adapting to quarantine.

The Shows Must Go On

Yes, this was just mentioned, but this isn’t about the popular saying. The Shows Must Go On is the name of a new YouTube channel by musical composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, who is most famous for plays such as CATS, Phantom of the Opera, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and Jesus Christ Superstar, among many others.

For the past few months since quarantine started, the channel has streamed a variety of shows for two days each weekend, or just one day for those outside of the US. While the channel often streamed many of Lloyd Webber’s shows, it recently streamed musicals such Hairspray and The Wiz, a black re-telling of The Wizard of Oz.

The channel was initially going to stream Peter Pan this past weekend, but it has now been rescheduled to this upcoming Friday in the wake of recent protests and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Even if you missed the limited run of some of the many musicals on the channel, The Shows Must Go On still features a variety of clips and songs from them. Don’t worry, you can still enjoy some of your favorite songs from musicals you love, or even discover a new one.

Shakespeare’s Globe

As the Bard wrote in As You Like It, “all the world’s a stage.” Shakespeare’s Globe, a replica of the original Globe theater, is taking that famous phrase to the digital world.

The theater now offers a variety of their productions online. People can buy or rent through their on-demand platform, stream a selection of their shows on BBC iPlayer, or watch a few full productions for free with their limited run of Youtube premieres.

Shakespeare’s Globe currently offers an adaptation of Macbeth designed for young people at only 90 minutes, as well as A Midsummer Night’s Dream that will run until June 28. It also has a production known as Globe to Globe, whose release dates will be announced soon.

The theater’s website also has a variety of blog posts, video series, and interactive online events if you’re looking for a good dose of Shakespearean content on a time crunch.

National Theatre

Even while closed, London’s National Theatre is still devoted to providing audiences with world-class entertainment.

If you’re looking for plays as opposed to musicals, and you’ve decided to take a break from Shakespeare, the National Theatre is a solid option for you. The theater offers a variety of more modern productions each week.

This week’s show is The Madness of George III, and the full-length production is available to stream now on YouTube.

Upcoming plays include Small Island, which discusses the history between Jamaica and the UK in the years after World War II, and “Les Blancs,” which showcases a fictional African country that teeters on the edge of revolution. Keep an eye out on the National Theatre’s website and YouTube channel for more updates on upcoming productions.

The Metropolitan Opera

For those looking for a nice offering of opera in their lives, the Metropolitan Opera in New York is now streaming a different production of theirs each night until June 21.

Their platform offers a variety of operas from a range of composers and languages. From romantic tragedy to moving drama, the Metropolitan Opera has plenty of performances in store.

Tonight’s opera that will be offered on-demand is “Armida” by Gioachino Rossini, which tells the romantic and dramatic story of the titular sorceress and her ill-fated lover Rinaldo.

The impact is real

Due to the pandemic and quarantine in place, the theater world has been among some of the industries most severely affected. And the effects of this are more than just economically adverse; also artistically.

Performers can no longer express their art and creativity in the way they used to. Productions that have had so much effort and thought put into them have been snuffed out.

This impact affects not only theaters themselves, but potential audiences too. Many people expecting new seasons of shows only find disappointment as productions are cancelled. They’ve been stripped of the vital experience of being exposed to art through performance in a personal and intimate setting of the theater.

Yet it’s because of these issues that make many theater’s attempts to adapt and overcome these problems all the more important.

If you’re seeking ways to help, consider donating to your local theater or actor’s fund so that these creators can keep on creating.

Here’s how 826NYC is inspiring people to speak out with creative writing

Some superheroes have crazy powers like flight, super strength, or heat vision, but this league of heroes has something much more powerful: its creativity.

826NYC is a nonprofit organization that helps inspire students to channel their creative writing abilities through a variety of initiatives such as writing workshops and working with educators in schools. 826NYC is only one chapter of a whole network of 826, with other chapters located in cities such as Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, and beyond.

This past week, I was fortunate enough to speak with 826NYC’s Executive Director Joshua Mandelbaum and Director of Education Aarti Monteiro to learn more about 826NYC’s mission, what they’re doing in these tumultuous current events, and what they believe to be the role of the arts in these unconventional times.

826NYC’s Mission and programs

“Our mission is to encourage the exploration of endless possibilities through the power of writing,” said Mandelbaum. “Which in short means that we believe that writing creates skills and inspires social-emotional growth, in areas such as confidence and self-efficacy that are valuable throughout a young person’s life.”

826NYC achieves this through a set of four core programs. One of their most popular ones is their after-school homework help program, which provides students with an opportunity to get help in their writing abilities.

Other initiatives include writing workshops, collaborative storytelling programs, and in-school publishing projects. At the end of the day though, many of these programs allow students to leave as a proudly-published author.

“Most of our programs end in some form of publication. We make that work available to the public through the superhero store, and through our online platform,” said Mandelbaum.

The nonprofit works with a variety of schools and grade levels in the New York City area, with programs that are geared mostly for students from ages 6-18.

Due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic however, 826NYC has had to make some changes to the way it runs things. Namely, moving its programs online, such as its online tutoring and academic literacy workshops. The shift to online learning has also allowed students from out of state to join in. Even with these new changes, the core goal of the programs is still the same.

“It’s still very much focused on creative writing and trying to give students the opportunity to explore their creativity and imagination. Of course, since they’re on computers, the programs are a little bit shorter, and they’re really interactive,” said Monteiro.

“And usually we do a lot of work with volunteers in our spaces in person, and so online we’re trying to replicate that, but it looks a little bit different and they’re doing a little bit more collaborative writing as a whole group in order to kind of create the intimacy and social experience that they would have in person.”

These changes haven’t diminished the organization’s impact, however. In fact, it has even launched a new initiative known as “quaranTEEN voices” to help give young writers express themselves in these unconventional times.

Unlike 826’s traditional programs, quaranTEEN voices allow students to write asynchronously each week with a series of writing and revision prompts. At the end of each week, the writers come together to work with a professional, published author. The new program has worked with industry professionals such as Claudia Rankine, Jacqueline Woodson, and Spike Jonze, among others.

“We’re really trying to create an experience where students are a little less isolated at home,” said Monteiro. “And since a lot of authors…have to cancel book tours and things like that because of the pandemic, we’re also able to engage them a little bit more and bring them in to talk with our students.”

“It’s been a really amazing opportunity for us. Actually, it’s kind of allowed us to live a dream of weekly connecting young people with published authors,” said Mandelbaum.

Keeping connected in times of adversity

826’s goal of connecting people is an essential one, and its importance is even greater in a time of protests, civil unrest, and a transmittable virus. With issues such as police brutality and systematic racism in this country coming through to a larger audience than seemingly ever before, uniting as a community is more important now than ever.

“I think that 826 NYC was founded because of all of these issues…We’re primarily working with students who are coming from communities that have experiences with systemic racism and oppression,” said Monteiro.

“And so we’re really trying to support those students and help both, you know, work on the education gap and opportunity gap, but also to provide spaces where they feel empowered to use their own voices and to have the skills to do so…we’re giving them the tools that they can tell their own stories and their own experiences.”

Monteiro also mentioned the importance of people being able to use writing as a way to cope and speak out on the issues in the world.

“I think that a bit our approach is more about how you can use writing, both as a tool to process your own emotions and your own experiences, as well as to educate and create change in the world,” said Monteiro.

Yet despite the events going on in the world, 826NYC also offers a sanctuary away from trouble.

“The students come to us often every week, regardless, particularly in our after school program of what’s happening in the world. And we want to be sensitive to retraumatizing students, of presenting content that parents aren’t necessarily comfortable with,” said Mandelbaum.

Whether times are normal or unconventional like now, 826NYC provides an essential opportunity for people to express themselves and speak out on whatever topics or ideals may be on their minds. In true heroic fashion, 826NYC lets young writers awaken the superhero within themselves.

“I like to think of the work that we do is we help young people sort of see themselves as writers with something important to say because that’s exactly who they are,” said Mandelbaum. “And that I think is the work that we’re doing, and why it’s so important. And why it’s so important in this moment.”

Making changes through creativity

In a school system that is not only highly standardized but also segregated, providing students with the tools they need to express themselves creatively also helps pave the way for change in their education.

“Our education system is structured so that students, especially students of color, are not given space to be themselves or to think critically about the world around them, and to share those thoughts,” said Monteiro.

“It’s much more about, learn this, and take this standardized test, and sit down and be quiet, you know? And I think that the work that we’re doing is really trying to dismantle that and to change it in a small way with the students that we’re able to work with. I believe that it can, even in a small way, have a bigger impact and create change.”

One special aspect of creative writing is that even if someone doesn’t grow up to be a writer or a content creator of any sort, the single act of writing in itself can still be a transformative experience for them.

“The act of reading is a readily accessible and transformative experience. But I also think that the act of writing is a bit of the accessible and transformative experience as an art form,” said Mandelbaum.

“With writing, you need maybe 20 minutes and a pencil and a piece of paper to have that experience. Maybe you’ve never shared it with anyone. You’re still having an experience that I think can be really powerful to the individual.”

In our shifting society, it is this act that can help not only translate people’s current experiences but also create new visions of what could be.

“How can we imagine possibilities outside of the world that we’re seeing right now…If we didn’t already know that our world was incredibly inequitable, we are seeing it everyday now,” said Monteiro.

“I think that writing can both provide ways to process for yourself, and ask questions, and try to understand what you think, and imagine something better, and of course is a way to read other people’s work and trying to understand experiences outside of yourself.”

It’s also in this time that Mandelbaum said creatives should “begin imagining a better world.”

“Because I think that…our imagination combined with our will is how we move forward as a people, and sharing that vision, and having conversations around that shared vision, no matter how outlandish.”

“I like to think that we’re doing at 826, and I think that all writers and artists can do is to be thinking about, like, ‘what are the voices that we’re not hearing? And how do we better create space for that?’” said Monteiro.

With so many people isolated and divided right now, the creative arts are arguably the glue that many need to strongly bind together. It is through creating not just conversation, but creating in general, that can help inspire people to unite as a community and envision a better world.

“And if you can share that with a few other people, I think that is a really important, powerful thing because then you begin to see the change I think for many people,” said Mandelbaum.

“You can conjure that future. You can conjure what’s next in this process, as a writer, as an artist. I think that’s really important.”

If you want to conjure a new vision of what’s next, no matter how creative you are, simply get out there and communicate with people like friends and family. The first step in uniting as a community is to communicate. Share your thoughts, your work, and take an opportunity to speak up about your vision. Once you do, the creativity will flow from there.

For those who want to help 826NYC, following them on social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Medium, where they share student pieces, is a great way to support the organization. Other ways include applying as a volunteer even at your nearest 826 chapter or donating.

826NYC also operates the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co., which still offers online orders even in the pandemic. There you can get a variety of student publications and stock up on superpowers of your own by getting cans of gratitude or pints of pride. All proceeds go directly to 826NYC.

Remember, your greatest power is your creativity. Awaken the superhero in you by visiting 826NYC’s official website, or take flight and start a new creative project so that you too can help create a vision for a better future.

Why shows like ‘Cops’ and movies like ‘Gone With The Wind’ are getting pulled

After 30 years of runtime, the television show Cops is #cancelled. The film Gone With the Wind? Now, it’s just “gone.”

The influence of police brutality and racial reform protests not just across the U.S., but also internationally, is finally catching up with the entertainment industry as companies put these controversial productions on the shelf.

Cops cancelled by Paramount Network. Live PD and Body Cam are put on hold.

Cops began in 1989 as a reality show that gave a glimpse into the operations of police officers in the field. Since then, it’s grown into a long-spanning series with 32 seasons. The 33rd season was meant to premiere Monday, June 8.

After pulling episodes from the series on June 1 in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the protests that followed, however, the Paramount Network has cancelled the show altogether.

Like any reality TV show, it doesn’t necessarily show the whole story, much like many modern-day narratives of police brutality on the cops’ side. Especially in the current climate, Cops arguably contributes to harmful portrayals of people of color with how it features some of its criminals. 

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Even if this may not be the show’s intent, its narrative of violence for the sake of showing a suspenseful police investigation isn’t a healthy practice.

It’s this insensitivity that arguably contributes to racism still being an issue today. Considering the current protests and calls for racial reform in the US, the last thing needed is a show that stirs the pot.

Cops isn’t the only series that’s been taken off the air due to current events. A&E has put their show Live PD on hold, and Discovery has done the same for Body Cam. Currently, their future schedules are undetermined.

“Gone With The Wind” blown away by HBO Max

While it’s a classic film for the ages, Gone With the Wind isn’t without its more controversial points of conversation.

The film starring Vivian Leigh; Clark Gable; and Hattie McDaniel, the first Black woman to win an Academy Award, has had its fair share of criticisms for showing racial stereotypes.

It also arguably promotes a romanticized version of the old South and the Confederacy due to being set during the Civil War, which only adds fuel to the fires of the film’s critics.

The film has been temporarily pulled from the streaming service HBO Max, with a spokesperson from the company citing, “These racist depictions were wrong then and are wrong today, and we felt that to keep this title up without an explanation and a denouncement of those depictions would be irresponsible.” 

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The spokesperson continued saying the film “will return with a discussion of its historical context and a denouncement of those very depictions.” It will also  remain “as it was originally created because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed.”

HBO Max’s move to create a discussion around Gone With the Wind once it’s back on the service is a clever tactic in educating people about the work’s historical context. Even though it’s a classic, it’s not without its faults.

Having a company acknowledge that is a big step in creating dialogue about race portrayals in media, and hopefully others will soon follow.

International Impact

U.S. television shows aren’t the only ones that have been put on the shelf. The UK comedy series Little Britain and Come Fly With Me have also been removed from media services including Netflix, BritBox, and BBC iPlayer. In light of calls for racial justice and reform in society, the shows’ uses of ethnic stereotypes and blackface aren’t exactly the best for current times.

Comedians Matt Lucas and David Walliams, the creators of both series, have also commented on the shows’ controversial aspects in previous years.

Lucas in 2017 said of the series, “If I could go back and do Little Britain again, I wouldn’t make those jokes about transvestites. I wouldn’t play black characters.” 

He continues on to say, “basically, I wouldn’t make that show now. It would upset people. We made a more cruel kind of comedy than I’d do now.”

Walliams meanwhile has previously stated he’d “definitely do it differently because it’s a different time. There’s all kinds of tolerances that change.”

Lucas and Walliams aren’t the only ones who understand the harmful portrayals of characters they’ve played in media. Stand-up comedian Leigh Francis has also taken to social media to apologize for his caricatures of various Black individuals on his show “Bo’ Selecta.”

New Understandings

The fact that these shows and films are being taken down for showing racist and insensitive aspects, as well as actors noting these harmful portrayals, does show some promising things. 

For one, it indicates media outlets are paying more attention to the content they put out. The same goes for actors and comedians who are acknowledging the changing times. It shows that efforts such as police brutality and racial reform protests are having concrete effects on social systems. 

Most importantly, however, it shows that there’s a new dialogue about stereotypes and prejudice opening up not just in media, but society as a whole.

Perhaps in time, other networks and celebrities may follow this trend and become more conscious of their content and what it portrays.

Ava DuVernay’s new initiative puts the pressure on police aggression

Director and social justice advocate Ava DuVernay is launching the LEAP initiative focused on holding law enforcement accountable for police brutality.

DuVernay and her media company, ARRAY Now, are behind social justice and education films such as 13th and SelmaLEAP Action (Law Enforcement Accountability project) is a fund dedicated to empowering activists.

With the murders of Black individuals such as George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery in recent months, the ugly nature of police brutality in the U.S. has been brought into the public eye once again. None of the men or police officers involved in these brutal slayings have yet been convicted.

Despite public outcry and civil unrest, it still remains an anomaly when police officers are held accountable. 

DuVernay’s new initiative seeks to draw attention to the unlawful actions of police, as well as hold them responsible for their actions. LEAP importantly plans to disrupt the implicit code of silence among cops in police departments.

The project also aims to provide funding to artists, storytellers, filmmakers, and other creative individuals who seek to draw attention to police brutality and accountability.

Through its mission, LEAP hopes to create a dialogue revolving around the current law enforcement system. LEAP plans to tell the stories of those persecuted by police violence, and spark change to create a more transparent and visible justice process.

In this time of civil unrest, DuVernay’s project is an essential tool in bringing people together. It also provides a great way for creative individuals to use their work to unite others and advocate for an important cause. By coming together as a community and holding law enforcement accountable, this can pave the way for change in the system.

While most of the project besides its mission is still under wraps, DuVernay claims that we can expect something coming soon in August.

The Law Enforcement Accountability Project can be found on their official website, Twitter, and Instagram.

A quick guide on how to combat creative block in the midst of adversity

Everyone encounters creative blocks that stop those crucial creative juices from flowing once in a while.

Having empty thoughts? One of the best ways to combat this is by consuming positive media, or whatever form of content inspires you.

If you’re struggling to make readers engage with your stories, you could try using literary devices – like metaphors, symbolism, or allegories – to create powerful and compelling stories. Scribophile mentions that literary devices are the techniques that turn a literal, step-by-step retelling of events into a rich, engaging, and memorable piece of literature.

If you’re an artist, writer, filmmaker, or some other kind of content creator, lacking ideas or drive to create is an issue that affects us all. Thankfully, here are some resources for keeping your wellspring of inspiration going.


Writing.prompt.s is an extremely useful resource for any writer out there. It is a great source for some instant ideas, general writing practice, or even just a fun read with the way their prompts are worded.

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With a wide variety of prompts ranging across genres such as fantasy, horror, comedy, and more, writing.prompt.s has a multitude of concepts that can act as a great catalyst for a new story.

What makes them especially great is how creative and even unconventional some of the prompts can be. This is super useful for any writers looking to veer away from tropes and try to explore a new direction in their stories.

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Whether it be through a brief synopsis, dialogue exchange, or opening line, writing.prompt.s is sure to help any creator get inspired with a new idea! Check them out here on Instagram!

Art Fight!

The annual event of Art Fight truly exemplifies the art of war. Art Fight places contestants on opposing teams where they “attack” and “defend” against the other team with only one weapon: their artwork.

Don’t worry, this isn’t a blood sport by any means. On the contrary, it’s a great way to have an excuse to draw on a frequent basis, practice your art, and receive gifts of artwork in return. Contestants on each team, the theme of which varies each year, draw various original characters that belong to members of the opposite side. 

The goal of the event is this: members draw a character belonging to a user on the opposing team as an “attack.” This art attack can either be countered with a “defense” sent back to the original sender, or a recipient can attack another member of the opposite side. Each piece of art creates a point for a team, and the team with the most points wins.

One of the joys of being a content creator of any sort is the opportunities you have to surround yourself with other creative individuals. Art Fight provides the chance to do exactly that.

Not only do you get to inspire others by drawing art of their own original characters, but you’ll get to see others draw your characters too! Nothing beats the happy feeling of someone taking the time to draw something inspired by your work.

The start and sign up deadline for the event is July 1 and lasts for the whole month. Check out Art Fight’s official website for more information and the latest updates on this yearly event. You can also find them on Twitter and Discord to connect with other artists involved in the event.


ZenWriter is a fantastic resource for writers, especially if you have issues with getting distracted by other things on the internet. It’s an online program meant to provide a distraction-free writing workspace.

The site may look like just a simple writing program at first glance, but a quick click of the sidebar reveals the features that set this site apart from most other word processing software. Not only can you change the color scheme of the website to a day or night theme depending on your visual tastes, but you can also alter your font, choose whatever fire music you want, and even have a sound effect play with every letter you type. Do you want to pretend you’re typing on an old typewriter while listening to soft, classical music? Go for it.

ZenWriter’s minimalist layout also helps in reducing the chances of losing your focus while writing and makes the website easy to navigate. The site even allows you to title, save, and even export your pieces by making an account. And the best part, all these features, and ZenWriter are completely free.

Check out ZenWriter here, get in the zen zone, and have fun getting to work on your latest story.

Commit to the Craft

As much as we content creators would like, we can’t make art or writing out of thin air with sheer willpower just yet. Everyone needs to find time to sit down and work on that latest project at some point. Don’t worry, you can get through it. The key here is breaking things down and keeping things consistent.

Whether you’re an artist, a writer, or another form of creator, getting into the habit of producing or at least practicing making your content on a semi-frequent basis is a great way to recover your motivation. These hardly need to be massive goals. On the contrary, small goals are actually more effective.

Like any exercise, creative or physical, you need to train yourself to work up to the pace. You might work on your current creative project every day, every week, bi-weekly, or every month. What’s essential is staying on track so you can keep your creativity flowing.


Putting your work out there is scary by itself, and workshops and critiques may seem that way too. No need to enter a workshop like it’s a trial by fire. If you take some easy steps into the world of sharing your work, you’ll see it isn’t really all that terrifying.

Getting criticism can always be intimidating, especially if it’s a mentor or a nitpicker. Your best defense, in either case, is to build up a thick skin to rejection, critique, and learn how to take them with grace. By slowly and consistently getting exposed to opportunities for feedback, you’ll find yourself sharing your creative and artistic passions in no time.

Sharing your work with one to three friends or family members is a great way to start. You don’t need to ask for feedback yet. Try presenting your work to your inner circle, and get some exposure. Own your strengths! If you want, ask your group if they have any clever commentary to give.

As you get more comfortable, try to start asking questions about what may not be working out. Remember to take a step back and let your audience indulge in the piece. When viewers see your final product, you won’t be there to give context, as much as we creative people might want to.

Remember, the things people say about your work aren’t set in stone. No matter how good or bad people may think a piece is, that doesn’t determine everything about your skill as a creator. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and everyone has their opinions. You’re not measured by how other people react to you.

Think of critiques and the opinions expressed in a workshop as weapons in your creative toolbox. They’re all available to you, the creator, but you’re the one who ultimately decides which ones to consider. 

Try starting these habits

Now that you’ve got these great resources to help you, try putting them into practice. If you can combine them somehow, even better.

Look for a way you can create with friends, get feedback, and get some great content in your life. Try collaborating in a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly scheduled exchange. If you’re going to cash in those creative anxiety checks, it helps to do it in a fun way at least. This way you can not only get practice and feedback but also you can enjoy the content your friends have made.

Sharing the resources above is also a great way to grow your own community of creators, get connections, and develop more consistent creative habits.

So get out there, get creating, and have fun.

These artists powerfully portray the Black American experience

Art has the power to evoke empathy and bring people together as a community, and in this time of protest and pandemic, positive creative influences are needed now more than ever.

Here are some artists who have taken to social media or other online outlets to express their artistic perspectives on current events or experiences of being black in America.


Italian artist Stratidiblu, real name Luigi Mallozzi, has recently created a striking portrait of George Floyd in the aftermath of his unfortunate death.

What started as a single piece of artwork has now spread across profile pictures, gone viral, and most recently, become the powerful face of a new line of merchandise.

This powerful piece portrays the silencing of Floyd, and arguably represents the suppression of many other voices of Americans affected by police brutality and violence, especially in the midst of recent protests.

The subject of the piece also reflects a recent trend on social media, where many artists have created their own portraits of George Floyd, to honor his memory and support the Black Lives Matter movement.

Beyond the artwork’s popularity on social media, Stratidiblu has also created a series of merchandise such as t-shirts, posters, prints, and pins featuring the piece. These come as a part of a new artistic collaboration the artist has with The Gathering for Justice. 

The charity organization fights against youth incarceration, promotes activism towards reforming the justice system, and is, now, supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. Furthermore, all proceeds from sales go towards supporting Minnesota organizers aiding local communities.

Stratidiblu also has a multitude of other striking art pieces that comment on aspects of social justice, current events, mental health, and the human condition. From artworks representing feminist themes to the power of human emotions and love, Stratidiblu has an astounding array of thought-provoking and touching art.

Odera Igbokwe

Illustrator and painter Odera Igbokwe uses his beautifully made art to showcase the magic of the African diaspora, as well as the experiences of queer people of color.

His clever use of various hues also helps contribute to making a truly magical feel in his works. Igbokwe also incorporates aspects of fantasy and Afrofuturism to create mystical artworks that truly evoke a sense of wonder. 

This can be seen in particular in his illustration series known as “Dance of the Summoner,” which draws upon such elements to reclaim various aspects of African traditions and culture. It also draws attention to themes related to the African diaspora, queer people of color, and intersectionality.

The illustrator has also used his art to express anti-racist messages and promote support for members of the black community, specifically in regards to the emotions they are feeling, especially in this tumultuous time.


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We’ve got alot to be mad about. Ancestral rage is present day rage. We’ve got *alot* to be mad about.

A post shared by Odera Igbokwe (@odyism) on

Igbokwe’s art can be found on his Instagram, personal website, and Patreon, which is also the center of the “Dance of the Summoner” series.

Carlos Martiel

Cuban artist Carlos Martiel creates astounding visual pieces through the use of mediums such as forms of sculpture and 3D-art, or even photography with him as the main model of the artwork.

Many of his pieces focus on themes such as activism or immigration and often provide social commentary. Their commentary is enhanced by how Martiel often uses materials related to the work’s central theme.

He’ll use rocks and pieces of bricks and security fence spikes to form an American flag, a piece of his own dreadlocks to document the places he’s lived, a photo of him lying prone with an American flag piercing his skin.

These pieces and more tell a complex narrative about identity and society.

The artist has also recently taken to social media to protest police brutality and support the Black Lives Matter movement. From using his art to spread his message to showing photos of himself at protests and marches, Martiel’s artistic expressions are arguably another form of rebellion and a call to action in these times.

Carlos Martiel posts his artwork in addition to chronicling his activism on Instagram, as well as on his personal website.

King Kesia

A visual artist that combines traditional artwork, fashion, and photography to create a variety of beautiful and powerful pieces, King Kesia uses her art to portray inner self, personal beauty, and claim a proud self-image.

Furthermore, her artwork also focuses on black women and creates a compelling narrative about confidence and self-worth, which are arguably important attributes to hold on to in this time of unrest.

Kesia’s pieces both traditional and photographic use a unique diversity of form, as well as incorporating elements of African culture at times, to create a variety of inspiring and creative artwork with a sense of hidden strength. 


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I find, in being black, a thing of beauty: a joy; a strength; a secret cup of gladness. Ossie Davis ✊🏿

A post shared by rudegal (@kingkesia) on

King Kesia’s works can be found on her Instagram, where she has also recently taken to using her art to show a sense of black pride and to support the Black Lives Matter movement. She also has a personal website where she sells her works.

Art in a time of protest and pandemic

In this time where uncertainty reigns and many people seem to be chaotically pulling in every direction, it is key to find a sense of stability and community. Witnessing the human experiences of others, much less being reminded of what makes us human, is an important first step in this process.

Art has the ability to evoke those essential human emotions and provide a lens into people’s experiences. It helps to touch the feelings of others and to create bonds with people. And both of those things are exactly what we need right now.

Protesting in a pandemic: Here’s our guide to staying safe and smart

In the wake of police brutality and the murder of George Floyd, protests both peaceful and less-so have spread across the country like wildfire.

Times of civil unrest are already difficult enough for people, and their stress, anxiety, and anger have only been accentuated by the coronavirus pandemic. With all these stressful factors coming into play, it’s important to stay safe, smart, and connected as a community when protesting in order to triumph over these challenges.

With that in mind, here’s a guide to protesting in a safe and smart way during this pandemic:

What to wear

Black Lives Matter
Courtesy of Christopher Cruz

When protesting, it’s important to keep a few key things in mind. Not only are you facing the unfortunate possibility of arrest, but you’ll also likely be standing and moving around for a long time. Therefore, you’ll want to wear clothes that address these factors.

First and foremost, make sure you’re wearing something comfortable and appropriate for the weather. If you’re going to be stuck outside for a while, you’ll want to make sure you can stand it. Loose-fitting clothing and thinner fabrics that can wick off moisture are a good choice for a hot summer day. 

If the temperature is a little on the cooler side though, layer up, but still keep your attire relatively lightweight. With items such as light jackets, sweaters, gloves, hats, and scarves that can be easily removed. 

Comfortable footwear is especially essential since you’re likely going to be standing and moving for a long time. Sneakers or other types of sturdy shoes are your best bet for this.

Keep your hair up. Cover identifying marks and tattoos. Keep a mask on at all times, and try to wear goggles and gloves.

There’s more to just staying safe and smart in terms of what you’re wearing though, there’s also some key supplies that can be useful to have should you have to protest.

What to bring

Besides comfortable and lightweight clothing, there’s also some important items you might want to consider bringing to a protest should you attend one. For one, water is always essential to staying hydrated and keeping up your endurance in a long protest.

Protester crowd with masks
Courtesy of Christopher Cruz

You also want to keep your safety in mind. Not just in terms of protecting your identity from police, but for the sake of your health as well. We still are suffering from a global pandemic after all.

Fortunately, these issues can usually be solved hand-in-hand. Wearing a face mask, gloves, and glasses will help in masking your identity, reduce the chances of coronavirus from getting in contact with you, and provide some protection against rubber bullets and tear gas. Scary times require keeping all of this in consideration.

While you may be tempted to scream and chant to project your voice, you’re also projecting particles that could spread sickness and risk chances of coronavirus. So when you want to give your voice a break, raise a noise-maker or a sign instead.

Basic health and first aid supplies such as hand sanitizer, band-aids, and bandages are also useful to help keep yourself free from germs spreading in crowds, or to patch people up from any altercations.

“Tech cover”

Courtesy of Christopher Cruz

In the age of social media, the widespread use of technology has both its benefits and disadvantages.

One drawback in particular is the ability for the police to keep an eye on people’s devices. Cellphones can be particularly easy to track, especially through the use of stingray devices, which act as a sort of false cell tower.

This ultimately makes it easier for police to identify and track down protesters. Even taking a photo or video at a protest can give police information such as a timestamp and location to track an individual.

To maintain anonymity, it’s best to bring a secondary device or burner phone that has little to no information on you. If it’s registered with a carrier, make sure it’s one that you didn’t register too much of your personal information with.

Otherwise, it’s less of a burner and more of another tracking device. Should you need to use your phone, only do so for emergencies or to get in contact with friends or family for assistance.

Courtesy of Christopher Cruz

If you don’t want to pay for another device however, encrypting the data on your phone and keeping a secure pin or passcode is also a good way to maintain your digital safety.

Try to steer clear of using a fingerprint or facial scanner to unlock your device though. If the police confiscate your phone, chances are they’ll find it pretty easy to use you to unlock its biometric security.

In the end, your best bet is to limit your cell phone usage and its ability to connect to data or WiFi at protests. If you have to use it, try doing so only in emergencies.

Don’t forget a healthy mindset

With the tense protests emerging around the country, and the existing pressure of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s essential to keep a calm and level head amidst the chaos.

If you choose to protest, remember that these are ultimately for the sake of the Black Lives Matter movement, for peacefully fighting against police brutality in this country. For the sake of changing a corrupt justice system for the better. 

Protesters with Black Lives Matter signs
Courtesy of Christopher Cruz

This isn’t a time to loot for the sake of ransacking places. This is a time to come together as a community and peacefully work to change the system. If someone decides to try and agitate police, don’t follow along and muddy the meaning of peaceful protesting.

Talk to them; tell them the error in their ways. And if they refuse to listen, explain to the police and nearby protestors that they are acting alone and selfishly.

Be mindful of people, the black lives being lost due to police brutality, and look out for your fellow citizens. Remember that we can all be more than a bunch of people protesting, but rather protesting as one people.

Staying safe is staying smart

At the end of the day, these protests are still occurring in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, so social distancing and quarantine guidelines still apply here.

While mass gatherings are inevitable at protests, that doesn’t mean you can’t try to maintain six feet of distance in small groups. These guidelines don’t stop after protesting either. Isolating yourself following a protest is always a safe and healthy choice to ensure you’re not contaminated.

And most importantly: if you feel ill whatsoever, do not attend a protest and stay at home.

Wear masks
Courtesy of Christopher Cruz

These protests are a way to motivate positive changes to the social system in this country. If done safely and peacefully, we can make our voices heard and come together as a community.

This is not the time to cause chaos and stir the pot to make people agitated. This is a time to truly come together as one people and create a glimmer of light in this dark time.

Stay healthy, stay smart, and stay safe out there.