To me, it feels absurd to plan for my life to return to what is was before the pandemic, before the riots, before I was extremely aware of the raft of climate change. No, I cannot predict the future, but I feel it will only get worse before it gets better.

The artists I chose for this ARTLETTER are all artists who have used their work to uplift, empower, and educate their communities. They are artists who have made their work accessible, made it political. They are the artists who created art that started a conversation about freedom, equality, and space to be seen. They are all artists who took their work to the streets.

As I've evolved as an artist, my taste has evolved with me. My obsession about galleries, museums, and the art industry's standards made me look down at street art. I began thinking of it as less than compared to the art that was shown in galleries and museums. To be honest, I don't like a lot of street art, but when I thought about it, I realized I don't like a lot of art in galleries and museums either. And who are these curators to tell what great art is and what it isn't? 

I have studied street art for the last several months and completely fallen in love with it. Before I declared myself as an artist and ran around art shows, street art introduced me to art. I didn't care what street art looked like, I just loved that it was there. It was the freedom of it all, like, "hey, I have something to say and I will not wait for someone to tell me when I can say it."  Street art is so raw. It is honest and it has the power to make people in the community feel important. To feel like they matter. 

It is the foundation street art was built off of that pulled me to not only put my own work out there, but to talk about the impact it has had across this country. Things aren't getting better and we must seriously consider our part in a revolution, that is coming by the way. People are dying. Nature is dying. The systems that oppress us must die or we will certainly die in the hands of the system.  

Like the three ARTLETTERS before this one, I hope these works inspire you. I hope these artists offer you peace, power, and perseverance. I hope you study the murals, stickers, and posters in the streets a little more closely next time. And I hope my art community remembers our alliance is with the people not the institutions.  

As Keith Haring once said,
"My support network is not made up of museums and curators, but of real people."

With love, 

Ciarra K. Walters 

I was hesitant to post In Between in the streets. My strong fear of the police was one reason, but I couldn't help but think, is this work important enough to put out in the streets? Shouldn't I be posting more political work instead of photographs? Would people understand my work outside of an art environment? 

In the short month of September, these questions started answering themselves. The catch: I had to start posting the work to find out the answers. In Between is a body of work I would have waited to release until I had an exhibition, believing that my work would only deem important if it were on white walls, in frames, with the nod of approval from the art world. 

As my relationship and ideas about art institutions change, I started to understand, it was I who needed to take control of my work and not wait for someone else to do it for me. Although in my eyes, In Between necessarily didn't fit in with the aesthetic of street art, I thought, why not give the everyday people an opportunity to see work that would normally be shown in a gallery or museum? What did the people think about my work? 

I wanted to convey a feeling, not a message. We see so much advertising on the street everyday, I wanted someone to see my work and more so feel something instead of think something, which is why I decided to take the words "In Between" off the other two posters. It didn't matter if people knew it was my work, what is was about, or the title of it. The only two things that mattered to me was one, to have the courage to show my work outside an art environment and two, make my work accessible to everyday people. 

Three photographs from In Between became street posters. So far I have managed to wheat paste over 80 posters in New York, Washington D.C., and Maryland. I have seen some posters stay and others ripped away. Either way, I am beyond happy to have my work in the streets with the people. That alone, is political. 

More thoughts to come soon. In the meantime, check out some of the photos here

Art in the Streets...coming soon. Catch a sneak peak above.

Earlier this summer Carrie Mae Weems discussed her recent body of work, Resist Covid Take 6!, with Aspen Art Museum on IG Live.

With the spread of misinformation about the virus, it quickly resulted in the rapid spread and higher death rates in the Black, Latino, and Indigenous communities. In response to this, Weems created billboards and posters, along with smaller objects like buttons, lawn signs, tote bags, and magnets, where she combines personal photos and essential guidelines in both English and Spanish, like, "Stay safe! If possible stay home, wash your hands, cover your face." 

Resist Covid Take 6! started in her neighborhood of Syracuse and now posters and billboards have appeared in 10 cities across the country, including New York, Atlanta, Miami, Dallas, and Chicago, with the support from organizations in those cities. 

In a recent interview about Resist Covid Take 6!  Weems states, “I thought, ‘How can I use my art and my voice as a way of underscoring what’s possible and bring the general public into a conversation, into heightened awareness of this problem to better the community in which I live?"

Read Weems' interview about Resist Covid, Take 6! with The Philadelphia Inquiry.

The first time I came across Noni Olabisi's 1992 mural, To Protect and Serve (top photo), I felt protected. I felt powerful. I felt proud.

In Olabisi's mural, a serious Huey P. Newton is spotted at the front with a rifle. In the right corner, Bobby Seale is pointing his weapon at two KKK members and judge, Julius Hoffman, who served on Chicago 7 trial. On the far left we can see an Angela Davis with her iconic fro and The Panthers' famous, Free Breakfast Program. 

Throughout Black neighborhoods in the country, artists have long dedicated their work to uplift, empower, educate, and start a dialogue within their communities.

In 1967, The Wall of Respect (second photo) was completed and was one of the first murals of its kind. It featured over 50 Black historical figures on a wall (without permission) in the Southside of Chicago. It was this mural that inspired a movement of Black murals across the country. In an interview with one of the muralist, William "Bill" Walker, Walker said, “The project is designed to help give Black people a more distinct sense of identity, as well as beautify the neighborhood.” 

Public art is essential to the wellbeing of the community. If we want to educate and empower our people we must start in our own communities. Emory Douglas and The Black Panther Party are great examples of this (photos three and four). Douglas and the Panthers created images and slogans, distributing them amongst Black communities around the country through posters, pamphlets, and newspapers. 

When curators, museums, galleries, and the press turned their heads away from these artists, they created their own ways of sharing their work and message.

Art institutions may need to see and hear what we're saying, but it is our own people who need to see and hear it first. Read more about these murals, posters, and artists below. 

Noni Olabisi: To Protect and Serve, 1992, Los Angeles, California 

William "Bill" Walker + Sylvia Abernathy: The Wall of Respect, 1967, Southside, Chicago 

The Black Panther PartyThere is a Black Panther Born in the Ghetto Every 20 Minutes, 1995, Harlem, New York

Emory Douglas: Black Panther Posters, 1970, Lower East Side, New York

Stephen Shames: Rise, 1970, Location Undisclosed 

My LA family, here is a list of Black murals you could pull up on.

Aside from his notorious marriage to painter, Frida Kahlo, Rivera was a master of murals. His murals focused on the poor and working class people of Mexico and America, painting public masterpieces in both countries.

Rivera was also an artist no stranger to controversy. He had murals chiseled off of walls, covered by canvases, and some left incomplete due to his refusal to adjust his vision, which reflected his communist and atheists views. The loyalty he had for his own beliefs and his ability to translate that in his art is absolutely admirable. He took money from the rich and created work for the poor, showing the heroes as the working class and the villains as the capitalists (the same capitalist who hired him). 

It is said Rivera became a muralist after returning to Mexico, where he saw street art that was birthed from the Mexican revolution. Rivera took that same rawness from the streets and created masterpieces on public buildings that were designed to last for generations. 

Diego Rivera murals honors the foundation of street art: create work for the people and make it accessible to the people. He set the tone for political murals to come in the following years.

Read more about Rivera + his murals here.
Watch Rivera's, I Paint What I See, documentary on Kanopy.

Photo: The Arsenal, 1928
Which artist includes messages across banners in their paintings like Rivera's mural above? 

1. Pablo Picasso 
2. Kerry James Marshall 
3. Charles White

Click here for the answer + photo! 

SPARC LA (Social and Public Art Resources) recently curated the beautiful  exhibition, Signs from the Heart: California Chicano Murals, highlighting archival images of  Chicano murals from the 1960s to 2000s in Los Angeles.

These murals remind us that the Black struggle and the Latino struggle are more similar than different. A must see show.

Virtually on view until November 1st. 

Photo (from exhibition): Cristina Cardenas, Young People of Watts, 1991-1993

Keith Haring is known for his his funky, fun figures and use of bright colors. He was a megastar artist who made his work accessible to the public through his own products and the many murals he painted on the walls of inner cities, hospitals, and children's charities. 

In 1987 Haring and the kids of Philly and NYC painted the mural, We the Youth, in South Philly. Haring, the painters, and members of the community, express what this mural meant to them and why it was important to have in South Philly. 

Watch the five minute video here.

Haring was also a political artist who used his work to address aids, drugs, and police brutality. 

Read up on Haring with Tate's Five Things to Know: Keith Haring here. 


The Bushwick Collective founder, Joe Ficalora, (a Bushwick native), managed to turn an ugly industrial borough into a street art mecca. Empty wall space became bright murals and soon after a tourist destination, which one could say slowly introduced gentrification into Bushwick.

I didn't know about The Bushwick Collective until recently and I'm glad to finally know who's behind the murals I've seen so often. Complex gives you a run down on the collective and the impact gentrification has had on their practice.

The Bushwick Collective exemplifies how street art can transform a community and bring hope to the people. 

Watch the thirty minute film here
Back in August, AJ and I continued the conversation from our first art talk with Toan Magazine, discussing artworks from 11 artists. We dive into race, activism in the arts, and the impact these art works and artists have had on our own lives. 

As one viewer said, "It feels like art church in here." 

Watch us in our sacral chakra colors here

Back in August I launched my new, new website and it's been great receiving feedback! Please continue with it! I truly appreciate it. 

My homepage also acts as my announcement page. It is interchanging and I secretly update it with new videos, temporary photo albums, art days, and so on. Make sure you check in from time to time!

I am selling nine signed 11x17 street posters from In Between. 11x17 is a poster frame that you can buy for the low. I think these street posters would look amazing framed in your home. View here

I still have postcards and stickers from In Between. Grab them while you can. 

Winter is coming, which means more time indoors. Purchase a "House Print" to liven up your walls and give you something pretty to look at with all that extra time.
View August's ARTLETTER, Women in the Arts.

If you would like, send a one-time donation.

This ARTLETTER is intended to educate and promote the arts to everyone.

Always free, always for the art. 
Copyright © 2020 Ciarra K. Walters, All rights reserved.

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