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From Sketchbook to Statement: IYA Students Make Their Voices Heard by Design

It is often said that art imitates life, but during times of social unrest art can invoke the future people are looking to enact. This kind of artistic expression can have a lasting impact on the perception, energy and appeal of a movement. An iconic example is the HOPE poster designed by Shepard Fairey during former President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign. The red, blue, and beige stenciled portrait came to epitomize Obama’s message of hope and historic presidency.

As the nation gears up for the 2020 election, IYA students are also expressing their political views and support of social movements through art. Sophomore Mya Davis has taken up pen, spray paint can, and stencil to power the change he wishes to see. Davis has been using his creative skills to support the organization Black Out The Ballot, a collective of creatives that “aims to change infrastructure to ensure racial equity, social justice and financial empowerment for disenfranchised communities.” As Black Out The Ballot conducts “get out the vote” efforts across the United States, Davis’ artwork has been featured prominently across its social media campaigns.

In addition to his posters, Davis collaborated with artists and organizations Crenshaw Skate Club and Vote 4 Me to create a t-shirt design that encourages voting. “VOTE FOR THOSE WHO CAN’T!!!” said Davis in a recent Instagram post promoting the shirt.

Jane Li, who manages her very own Etsy shop full of unique stickers, artwork and more, has been creatively expressing her views. Over the summer, the IYA alum began selling multicolored stickers with the phrases VOTE! and Black Lives Matter.

She has also donated art to promote the Equal Justice Initiative, which works to end mass incarceration, excessive punishment and racial inequality in the US. Recently, Li designed a piece commemorating the life of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

“You can fight by voting. So vote,” said Li.

As Election Day draws near, remember to stay safe, wear a mask, and vote!