While social media is primarily used as a tool for keeping updated on the lives of friends, acquaintances, and your favorite celebrities, it can also be an impressive device for keeping yourself updated on social issues. Platforms like Instagram offer the opportunity of an intersection of art and activism. Check out these pages which use the power of representation to advance compelling advocacy.
Salomée, who runs the C.hroma account, describes herself on her Patreon as “creating murals and art for the revolution.” On her Instagram account, Salomée intersperses minimalist text-centered posts with the occasional selfie and mural. The art that she does share is mostly reflective of BIPOC-related social initiatives; she was even one of the organizers of a fundraiser for securing holiday gifts for BIPOC youth who have been affected by COVID-19 (which you can still donate to). Salomeé’s art also dabbles in issues that affect indigenous peoples and undocumented immigrants. Moreover, her aesthetic is both bold and psychedelic, a welcome splash of iridescence for your timeline.View this post on InstagramADVERTISEMENT
- Jenny Holzer
Jenny Holzer is an old-school text artist, her art splashed across the walls of pretty much every major modern art museum. Following her on Instagram is a whole other experience though. Holzer often posts animations of her art, similar to a credit roll of her snappy phrases, and she shares photographs and videos of her art projected on buildings and on billboards. Famous for such pieces neo-conceptual pieces as “RAISE GIRLS AND BOYS THE SAME WAY” and “ABUSE OF POWER SHOULD COME AS NO SURPRISE”, Holzer concisely lays out intersectional feminist ideas. There’s no elitism here, her audacious, austere words providing a break from the usual scroll of picturesque photos.
- Anjali Mehta
Anjali Mehta’s social media presence is saturated in jewel-tones. Based in New Delhi, India, Mehta’s art doesn’t always focus on activism, but many of her illustrations are revelatory of social issues--both in India and globally. Most of her posts are gouache-based paintings that feature people going about their daily lives, though many feature hand-lettering, as well. Alongside her more socially conscious pieces, Mehta includes captions that delve into her thoughts on the issue at hand, bringing an element of personal wisdom to her Instagram. You can check out her website to purchase her illustrations as prints for some dynamic home decor with a message.
- Dear Darling Design Studio
For a groovy, vintage aesthetic, I highly recommend giving Dear Darling Design Studio a follow! Founded by Darra Sargent, this art collective brings good vibes and pertinent information right to your phone. Incorporating a bright pastel color palette, funky lettering, and a distressed overlay, Sargent’s account is one that feels like a nostalgic blast from the past, bringing in more general text-based activism that doesn’t make you feel like shit.
- Village Idiot
If you’re looking for a monochromatic art-style built on pointillism, this is the place for you. Village Idiot is run by a guy named Mike whose approach is a bit blunter than most. His posts are cartoon-like in nature, and he often includes matter-of-fact text that doesn’t shy away from expletives. If you’re the type of person that appreciates straightforwardness and starkness in your art, definitely give him a follow. This account is full of dotwork that denounces white supremacy and supports the recent wave of protests against police brutality and racism. If you’re interested in purchasing prints, you can just DM the account!View this post on InstagramADVERTISEMENT
- Futura Free Design
Futura Free Design is run by Quentin Swenke, and it’s an exploration of graphic design and letter blocking more particularly. Experimenting with ratios and fonts, this Instagram account is another one for textual art lovers. Of his activism posts, there’s a lot more than just catchy slogans and taglines in favor of specific movements. Some are slideshows that include key information about the issues that Swenke cares about, like racism and the death penalty. For those who enjoy learning from their feeds in a way that still satisfies a lust for art, Futura Free Design will be a very refreshing addition to your follow list.
- Side Dimes
Created by Brooklyn-based artist Mikayla Lapierre, Side Dimes is an exploration of pure anachronism. According to her website, Lapierre takes reproductions of 17th and 18th-century paintings, then uses digital technology to paint over parts of them with references to contemporary pop culture. This concept is unique, to say the least. Lapierre’s posts give voices to women of the past who were often voiceless, and also heightens the culture of modern trends. Regularly, these art pieces also include allusions to modern political and social issues. For some pop culture amusement with a classical feel, check out Side Dimes.
- Johanna Goodman
Johanna Goodman is something of both a digital and traditional collage artist. Her pieces have even been featured in the book Every Body: An Honest and Open Look at Sex from Every Angle, an inclusive, diverse compilation of stories about sex. On her Instagram, Goodman usually features pieces that utilize a feminine silhouette, various images appearing across a larger-than-life female body. More often than not, these images are politically focused.
In her Instagram bio, artist Mer Young dedicates her account to “Elevating Indigenous Natives Black & Brown Lives,” and her page certainly lives up to this ambition. She aims to “inspire, celebrate and elevate repressed indigenous, first nations and native cultures and women of color” through her work. Through each of her posts, Young dips her toes into different color palettes, leaping from rich earth tones to a subtle grayscale to vibrant iridescents. Each art piece features a photographed individual or a few individuals of color (primarily of indigenous origin) in the foreground, the background a visionary collage relevant to the message that Young seeks to propagate. Alongside each post, Young includes a caption that explains the meaning behind her post, more often than not with accessible messaging.
- Guerilla Girls
Is it possible to talk about art activism without talking about the iconic, ever-anonymous Guerilla Girls? With a focus on opposing racism, sexism, and discrimination within the elitist art world, the Guerilla Girls have been around for more than 30 years. However, they’ve made the jump from exclusively physical demonstrations and productions to sharing their work on social media and highlighting the voices of other, less anonymous art activists. The inequality within the art world is vaster than what meets the eye, and it’s worth holding a magnifying glass to.
An intern here at Bust, Vanessa Wolosz is completing her bachelor's degree University of St Andrews, where she studies English and Comparative Literature. Her parents are happy to report that she is an honors student, and are significantly less happy to report that her interests lie in researching body art, reading sci-fi, bleaching her own hair, and not-having-a-boyfriend. You can follow her on Twitter, @memelover100, though doing so is not recommended.