Premium water brand LIFEWTR announced its latest effort toward amplifying social progress through art with the launch of its Black Art Rising program today. The digital exhibition documents the diverse responses to the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020. The gallery was created to preserve this moment in time and help keep the movement alive by ensuring future generations have access to the art and artists who are acting as vanguards of change.
At launch, Black Art Rising features protest art from eight creators at the forefront of racial justice. Consumers can browse the digital gallery on TheBlackArtRising.com.
LIFEWTR also calls upon everyday creators to keep the movement strong by sharing original artwork for the chance to be aggregated into the Black Art Rising infinite digital gallery. A fund for everyday creators has been created offering $500 stipends to top original artwork submissions shared on Instagram through the #BlackArtRisingContest hashtag and tag @LIFEWTR to go toward art supplies for their future projects. These artists will then also see their artwork aggregated into the digital gallery.
“When we elevate creators equally, allowing them to inspire the world and be inspired by others, creativity can flow freely,” said Michael Smith, Sr. Director, Marketing, PepsiCo, Water+ Portfolio. “Unfortunately, it hasn’t been that way and Black creatives have long been underrepresented in the arts; at LIFEWTR, we are committed to using our platform to spotlight the amazing talents of Black creatives, who now more than ever are inspiring others to use their voices with purpose and push others to address systemic racism head on.”
Through the Black Art Rising Fund, LIFEWTR is committing $50,000 to help increase the number of diverse voices speaking their truth through art.
“I hope this program helps to continue the elevation of Black artists and their art until it becomes commonplace to see,” Shae Anthony, one of the participating artists, told Forbes.com. “No longer will seeing a framed portrait of a Black woman in a store be surprising or seeing the work of a Black artist in a large retailer be shocking.”
Artists across America have been pouring out their outrage over the country’s continued struggle to collective acknowledge that Black lives matter, that a nation built on white supremacy and slave labor continues to promote systems which disadvantage minority groups, that police brutality against Blacks is a common experience and that deeply entrenched systems of oppression continue to operate in the U.S. This has resulted in an explosion of creativity. A tidal wave of profound, challenging, meaningful art meant to confront the nation’s inequities.
“Art is a universal language, it helps us to communicate our experiences, dreams and amplify current events; it keeps us talking and thinking about the things we need to do to create change,” Reyna Noriega, another artist invited by LIFEWTR to participate on the project, told Forbes.com. “In the current climate I have seen art being used in so many ways that helps the movement towards Black liberation–educational tools, political activism, inspirational, emotionally charged pieces that start conversations, and joy filled works that inspire us to trek on, they are all a part of the work.”
Artist Temi Coker agrees.
“As an artist it’s our responsibility to reflect the times,” he told Forbes.com when asked about his inclusion in Black Art Rising. “Art sparks conversation, and as an artist I believe we shouldn’t shy away from creating the work that will make people have those difficult conversations.”
What could the impact of all the powerful artwork being produced in response to the varied horrors of 2020–racial and otherwise–be?
“Art continues to speak even after the news and trending topics have gone silent, it shines a continual light because it can mean so many things to many different people,” Anthony said. “It’s this subjective interpreting that makes us want to share with others, and through this sharing, its message continues to spread; racial equality and justice are not just trending topics, they need to be spread constantly until they’re commonplace–art can do just that.”
LIFEWTR’s Black Arts Rising program represents the latest in a series of commitments the brand has made in using its platform to uplift emerging and underrepresented artists, down to the bottle itself.
“LIFEWTR is aware that barriers exist in the creative world and that not all creators receive the same opportunities to showcase their work,” Coker said. “This digital exhibition is a way for them to uplift the work and voices of emerging Black creators.”
Centuries of inequality won’t be evened by Black Arts Rising. No one person, no one project, can lift all that weight. But everyone, every corporation, can do something and they can start today.
“My hope is that (Black Arts Rising) will empower and mobilize Black creatives with the resources they need to create and have their work expand not only their careers but the movement for Black lives,” Noriega said.