Stuck on the walls are small, almost minuscule figurines of apes, made of clay. Their faces sport colours that defy set notions of race and skin colour; appearing almost like a grid. Street artist and muralist Do aka Nikunj Prajapati, writes below, “The only way to move forward is through a revolution, perhaps a re-evolution.” Inspired by Kitty O’Maera’s poem, The People Healed, artist and illustrator Nargis Shaikh’s 3D work speaks of interconnectedness and depicts the importance of every cog in the wheel which moved towards healing. Artists Do and Nargis are among many Indian artists — both up and coming and established — who are part of a global campaign on Instagram called #spreadheART.
Set up by Los Angeles-based learning centre Inner-City Arts, in partnership with Instagram, the campaign initially aimed to connect people across distances with messages of hope and healing. Now, following the timely conversation around systemic racism after George Floyd’s death and the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement, the focus has slowly shifted to addressing these efforts.
Artists’ collective St+art India Foundation represents India in this campaign, by partnering with Instagram and Inner-City Arts to mobilise Indian artists’ participation. Anyone can participate and can showcase any form of creative output; there are no limitations with regard to genre. The campaign, which launched on May 28 with a collage of short videos highlighting artists and students making art while confined indoors, includes NYC artist and author Adam J Kurtz (@adamjk), Italian street artist Alice Pasquini (@alicepasquini), Australian muralist George Rose (@george_rose), NYC illustrator Grace Miceli (@artbabygirl), Ghanian musician Lord Paper (@lordpaper_), LA actor and Emmy nominee Richard Cabral (@richardcabralofficial), and Indian street artists Do and Khatra (@dostreetart, @bykhatra). The message was devised in an attempt to encourage artists who are used to a public audience to not lose hope and continue their practice. Artists Do and Khatra’s 2017 joint project titled The Kindness Mural has also been featured.
“The transformative power of creativity and caring relationships have always been critical to the well-being of young people and more so right now,” writes Inner-City Arts Co-Artistic Director, Michael Sample. With the campaign pivoting towards more timely social issues as days go by, the artworks that are sent are also seeing a shift in context.
User-generated #spreadheART creations will be selected for a curated public art exhibition that will be projected outside Inner-City Arts’ Skid Row campus and other Los Angeles landmarks. This was earlier scheduled to be on showcase by June end, but has now been postponed to a unconfirmed later date.
The campaign is still underway and artists across the globe can create their works and post it with the hashtag #spreadheART. A curatorial team will shortlist the works for a public art showcase in Los Angeles.