“Always let your art be the statement”: Three artists using art for activism

I’ve started this creative endeavor, Art Evokes, in a time when most areas of my social life are inundated with tragic stories of innocent people being murdered and an entire community and generation screaming “WE ARE HERE” and “WE MATTER.”

Through this project, I will promote light over darkness, love over hatred and very importantly, beauty over all. I’m inspired by those who use their voice and influence to call attention to love, light and beauty. I do not believe that an artist is obligated to have views that are explicitly political but I do think that she should always work to uplift society as a whole through their creation. These three artist have used their artistry to not only show their opinions but to promote powerful uplifting messages.

Erykah Badu erykah I’ll always hold a very special place within myself for Ms. Badu. Her fifth album, “New Amerykah Part 2: Return of the Ankh” was released in 2010 when I was struggling through the onset of an illness– later diagnosed as Multiple Sclerosis.

The album reminded me of my own inner strength with lyrics saying, “But if I get off my knees, I might recall, I’m 20 feet tall.” The entire album inspired me to summon inner strength and face my reality with staunch courage. I remember leaving the hospital and taking my first breath of fresh air with “Window Seat”– the lead single from the album– blasting in my ear buds.

Empowerment, love and consciousness are the focus of all of Badu’s music and this music compilation proves it.  Aptly named, “FEEL BETTER, WORLD!… LOVE, MS. BADU”, the artist shares music that inspires her– harmonies that promote love, light and harmony. About the project, she writes:


To me, this compilation is a call to stand up, stand tall, stay bright and continue to love. The tracks also reminds me that loving oneself is always the place to start. Because after all, if you can’t love yourself, how in the Hell you gonna love somebody else?

Prince prince Hail to the Purple One! As if his prolific discography of ingenious compositions was not enough, Prince answered the call show support after Baltimore, MD’s Freddie Gray was killed while in police custody. The “Purple Rain” singer released a tribute song, “Baltimore“, and organized last-minute “Rally for Peace” concerts in Washington, DC and Baltimore.

To match the urgency for advocacy, his action was swift: the Baltimore show was pulled together in just 5 days. And there’s more. According to activists, Prince also had about 170 people moved from the arena’s $22 seats to the front row.

Alice Smith


Possibly my favorite of all time, Alice Smith’s unique and strong vocals lace powerfully over this track. Of all the tributes here, her was the most pleasantly surprising to me. Alice is known for show stopping performances and a closely- held personal life. She rarely does interviews and when she does, they’re strictly about her music. That’s one reason why hearing her release her sorrow on the ills of our society on this record was a special occasion.

In an Instagram post debuting the song, the singer wrote:

I’m not sure what to say. It’s unbelievable what’s going on. @davesitek and @sam_dew wrote this song, and we recorded it the other night. Tonight, with all that has been happening with the police, we decided to put it out. Kind of a release. Shell Shock…

Listen to “Shell Shock” here.

Inspiration abounds, folks. Just look around and listen. Fight the urge to get bogged down with negativity and instead use your energy to create, promote and perpetuate light, love and beauty.



P.S. What artistic expressions of resistence have you notice lately? Maybe you’re heard a song, read a poem or seen a piece of visual art. Let’s talk about it in the comment section below!

“Steal like an artist” and more inspiration from Pablo Picasso

“I am always doing things I can’t do, that’s how I get to do them.” -Pablo Picasso

Whenever I see a painting by Spanish artist Picasso (1881-1973), I’m awestruck with the beauty, creativity and sheer iconic status of his works. His distinctive mesh of abstract faces with distorted facial features and use of bold black lines at one moment then use of soft curves and colors the next is enough to make him one of my favorite artists. His catalog spans from still life to abstract, portraiture to sculpture. The guy was prolific. He is one of the greatest.

March, 1932 Oil on Canvas

Girl Before a Mirror. Oil on canvas. Painted 1932.

Not often does an artist’s life spark my curiosity as much as their work. But Picasso’s life, both facts and rumors, fascinate me in a special way. More than anything, I find wonder and inspiration in his quotes. Here are a few of my favorites:

“Everything you can imagine is real.”

Les femmes d’Alger (Version “O”). Oil on canvas. Painted 1955.

If you can believe it, you can achieve it! Don’t you believe you can fly?!

OK, sorry for the R. Kelly reference, but that statement is simply The Truth. I believe in this principle so much that I devote time each day to prayer, positive affirmation and visualization. Every day. It’s important to imagine myself accomplishing goals and seeing my dreams come true. Taking the time to use my imagination not only helps me be more creative, it increases my faith and belief that all things are possible for me.

“Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not.”

The Kiss. Oil on canvas. Painted 1969.

With so much conflict, hatred and ignorance running rampant in the world, I charge myself with stepping back and asking “why can’t creation of beauty through love ease the pains of the world?” and “what will I do to promote and perpetuate art, beauty and love everyday. How can I make this goal my life’s work?”

“How can you expect a beholder to experience my picture as I experienced it? A picture comes to me a long time beforehand; who knows how long a time beforehand, I sensed, saw, and painted it and yet the next day even I do not understand what I have done. How can anyone penetrate my dreams, my instincts, my desires, my thought, which have taken a long time to fashion themselves and come to the surface, above all to grasp what I put there, perhaps involuntary.”

I cannot find a title or year for this beauty. I hope it is, in fact, a Picasso.

Picasso often spoke on his internal world as an artist giving insight to how his mind works as a person who is an artist. He reveals the long process inner thoughts and overall humanness of who he is as an artist. Such insight fascinates me. I place as high value on an artist’s statement as I do on the artist’s work. I always wonder, “who does this artist say she/he is?” instead of relying solely on who I interpret her/him to be.

“Good artists copy, great artist steal.”

Le Déjeuner sur l'Herbe (The Picnic). Édouard Manet. Oil on canvas. Painted 1862–1863.

Le Déjeuner sur l’Herbe (The Picnic). Édouard Manet. Oil on canvas. Painted

Le déjeuner sur l’herbe d’après Manet. Pablo Picasso. Painted 1960. Picasso was so inspired by Manet’s Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe that he “stole” it several times making at least 27 versions of the painting!

There’s controversy over whether or not Picasso actually said this but since it has become so synonymous with his persona, I’ll include it here.

I identify more as in innovator than an inventor. With a blank page in front of me, my mind is, well, blank. However, when I look at something that already exists, something that has already been done, I can take it and add to it in creative and unique ways. This ability is a gift and as a result of it, I’m not one to copy something I see. Copying requires taking what’s already done and doing the exact same thing. To innovate, one can take what’s there and make it one’s own (steal it) in order to make it better.

Action is the foundational key to all success.”


This quote spawned this blog post. If I want to run a blog, I have to write. If I want to become an authority in the art world, I must immerse and surround myself with the people and objects that define that world (yes, please!). To get anything done, you have to do it. If you’re a painter, paint. If you’re a writer, write. If you’re a hater, hate! It’s just what you do so do it! But seriously, do something, anything to live up to who you are. You owe that to yourself.

Me pondering another favorite quote from Picasso at the Sagamore in South Beach, Miami.

Here’s to more action and inspiration from Picasso and beyond.