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Millennial artists use Instagram to shine light on social justice issues

Written by Pamela Ardon, Staff Writer

As social media continues to grow, Instagram has become the new media outlet for millennial artists to showcase their artwork. This new generation of artists is using their artwork to express their views on social justice issues that are often dismissed or ignored. In other words, museums and art galleries are not so much the first choice anymore.

Artists (mainly from ages 18 to 25) use their Instagram accounts to shine a light on subjects through all creative platforms including music, literature, film, drawings, paintings, photography, and more. However, they are also pushing and challenging the boundaries that art industries have normalized.

Ojo Agi, 24, uses her art to explore and address the issues of race, gender, and cultural identity. The Nigerian-born self-taught artist aspires to tell stories that people of color and any background can relate to. She challenges to break the “myopic lens where women of color are often portrayed,” as well as gain a deeper understanding of what beauty means to her. “I hope in viewing my art, [women] learn that they are beautiful, [that] their lives matter and they belong,” Agi said.

 

Masu McLemore, 22, combines her love for colors and music to bring aesthetic and vibrant oil paintings of various artist. Music being one of her biggest inspirations, McLemore has created artwork on artists Erykah Badu, Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar, and Chance the Rapper. They all share a common agenda using their platforms to tackle complex issues and stimulate critical conversations. McLemore also uses her personal experiences and the advantage to relate with those affected by the violent injustice toward the black community.

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Oil painting of artist SZA by Masu McLemore. (Photo from McLemore’s website)

There are so many reasons why artists choose to pursue and display their passion. Having visual representation of issues–including BlackLivesMatter, breaking gender role barriers and identities, and perceptions of women of color–creates a bigger and more meaningful impact on social media.

These issues are what motivate and inspire new artists to create purposeful work. “An artist should suffer; with suffering comes our best work,” said McLemore.

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