Solidarity, Black Joy, Liberation: 6 Artists on What Juneteenth Means to Them

This year, Juneteenth looks different, partly because of COVID-19. And it feels different, perhaps because white America is finally paying attention. It also falls in the midst of global protests proclaiming that Black lives do matter, and while there is still a ton of work to be done in the fight for justice and equality, there is also heritage and culture and history to celebrate.

So we went out to six Black artists and asked them to create a piece to symbolize what Juneteenth means to them. Below, their works of art, explained in their own words.

Kendra Dandy

“This illustration is meant to be a celebration of Black beauty and joy to give us light in these hard times.”

Alyissa Johnson

“For me, Juneteenth is a time to celebrate your friends, family, and heritage. We celebrate each other with cookouts, dancing, and community. We celebrate the achievements and reflect on the work that’s left to do and we celebrate what it means to be Black.”

Lo Harris

“When I think of Juneteenth, I think of unabashed Black joy. This is a holiday rooted in a specific act of liberation so I wanted to create a piece that was celebratory, bright, and represented my artistic interests in femininity and sisterhood. Themes: freedom, solidarity and joy.”

Khadija Horton

“I wanted to celebrate Juneteenth in fashion the same way we do the 4th of July. I also wanted to highlight specific fashion iconography that comes from Black culture (i.e butterfly clips, hoops, nameplates—things that I like to wear that make me feel proud) and then I incorporated illustrated typography into those elements.”

Corinne Smith

“To me, Juneteenth represents the freedom to express my Blackness and Queerness, as well as the power that comes from choosing joy amidst so much pain and hardship.”

Ciara LeRoy

“Juneteenth makes me think about new dreams. Sure, Black people are physically free from slavery, but there are still so many systemic forms of oppression to be freed from. Juneteenth makes me imagine and dream about a world where Black people are free from fear. So that is where my concept comes from. The little strange flower eye at the bottom is blooming and dreaming bigger dreams.”

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