8 Socially Conscious Brooklyn Artists & Art Installations

July 22, 2020

As we continue to cope with pandemic life and make strides to support the Black Lives Matter movement, we’re happy to see so many artists coming together throughout Brooklyn to spread awareness, celebrate heroes, encourage equality and brighten spirits.

More than 20 local Brooklyn artists recently painted the Black Lives Matter mural in Downtown Brooklyn, a trend that’s been echoed across the streets of many American cities. But here in Brooklyn, and throughout NYC, there are plenty of additional local art exhibits and artists to celebrate. We’ve chosen eight of our favorites to share with you.

1. Sono Kuwayama

NYC artist Sono Kuwayama saw boarded-up storefronts and found all that plywood depressing. So she got permission from store managers and then put together a local team of artists to join her in adding splashes of color on storefronts throughout the city.

2. Adrian Brandon — “Stolen”

To honor Black lives that ended at the hands of police, Adrian Brandon only partially colors each of his sketches for the amount of time his subjects were alive. Subjects include Breonna Taylor, Jimmy Atchison and Miriam Carey, among (too many) others. Visit @ayy.bee on Instagram to see his work.

3. Los Muralistas de El Puente

Formed in 1990, serving the Los Sures community (Williamsburg’s Southside), this artist collective engages youth and community members in intensive training, coaching, and mentoring in the arts and the tradition of mural painting. They recently completed a black, white and grey mural inside the South 4th Street entrance to Domino Park as an homage to essential workers, which includes everyone from parents and neighbors to supermarket employees and paramedics.

Portrait Mural on Brooklyn Storefront

Photo courtesy of 74Wythe

4. #74WytheFamiliarFaces

Event space 74Wythe is donating 1% of their net proceeds to charities such as Black Lives Matter, Brooklyn Community Foundation, Stonewall Community Foundation and others. They are also offering their event space to the leaders of these important organizations for internal meetings. To recognize the different ways activists have gathered to create impact, the #74WytheFamiliarFaces installation, conceived and directed by art advisor Angela Redai, depicts portraits of individuals protesting, as well as group video chats, and even brides and grooms tying the knot via Zoom. The installation features custom illustrations by Arianna Margulis.

5. Aya Brown — “Essential Workers”

Recently profiled in The New York Times, Aya Brown is a young portrait artist whose “Essential Workers” series profiles Black women who are impacting the community on the front lines. Aya shines a light on these women in hopes that they too will see themselves as essential.

Two Black Jerseys Hanging on Wall Art Exhibit

Photo courtesy of Unarmed

6. Raafi Rivero — “Unarmed”

Artist and filmmaker Raafi Rivero created “Unarmed” back in 2013 as an ongoing project of specially designed jerseys in memoriam of Black victims of police violence—each one is created in the colors of the victim’s local sports team with a number to represent their age, and stars representing gunshots. Per the “Unarmed” website, his project asks the question: “If racism is a sport, which player do you root for?”

7. Alicia Degener

Bay Ridge resident Alicia Degener has been painting the windows of local businesses, sometimes with her artist friends in tow, to uplift spirits, spread joy and bring a sense of community. Her Esty shop features many neighborhood icons mirroring the community spirit she creates on the streets.

8. Fisher Parrish — “The Essential Goods Show”

For online viewing through August 30, 2020, “The Essential Goods Show” features objects deemed essential by the 80 participating artists. 20% of the proceeds go to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

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