We asked three artists to help us visualize what Black joy could look like after we achieve systemic equality — the joy that can exist in an inclusive and equitable world. Learn more about each artist and their work below.
Black joy is freedom. Black joy is radical. The Black joy to come from systemic equality would change the world. For my personal journey as an artist I’ve been given opportunities I never imagined with the help for my community, family, and friends. Black joy leads to liberation and the freedom of self expression. With this type of community and access to resources I’m starting to paint my canvas; I get to paint my future. Every Black artist deserves that freedom. Finding your identity comes when one is given access to knowledge without boundaries.
Octavia “Ink” Mingerink is a local illustrator, printmaker, and graphic designer. She believes in art as a form of expression, using her art to represent those who are underrepresented while bringing social justice issues to the forefront. As an illustrator, Octavia is driven and inspired by Black women. She’s set out to push forward those who are severely underrepresented and even excluded from the art industry. She wants to see women that look like her at the helm and she reflects that in her art. Constantly utilizing bright colors and dynamic movement in each piece, Octavia loves to incorporate flowers throughout her work. Pushing the message that we should give ourselves our flowers and celebrate growth and joy.
With this piece, I wanted to focus on the act of freedom. Freedom to laugh, freedom to dance, freedom to create, freedom to thrive in a world without policies and social structures attempting to curtail — even end — your very existence. Within this freedom lives unbridled joy, happiness from your head to your toes, flowing into the earth and into those around you. I see my figure as the embodiment of this joy, a joy so unrestricted and celebrated that it radiates out from her physical being and nourishes the world around her.
Black people are resilient — we’ve created so much already. It is truly intoxicating to think about what we could do with full access and opportunity.
Eliana Rodgers is a Black biracial illustrator and textile artist based in Brooklyn, New York. In her illustrative work, she creates worlds full of beauty and goods, bright colors and optimism, and individuals who celebrate humanity in all forms. Her illustrations can be found in various national publications such as The New York Times and The Washington Post. She recently illustrated her first children’s picture book, “Ray Ray Paints a Self-Portrait,” about a biracial kindergarten girl who learns to love her curly hair. Eliana graduated from Columbia University in 2018 with a Bachelor’s degree in Visual Arts.
Visualizing Black joy after systemic equality, for me as a Black creative, means to free ourselves from societal norms and preconceived notions about blackness. Blackness is not a monolith, we are many things, much more than our agony and much more than our pain. We are light, we are the embodiment of excellence. It is important to know that every day is Black history; we are cultivating a legacy that lives beyond 28 days, we are Black 24/7 and 25/8, we are monumental and it is important to pour into us and we have poured into so many. Black joy is eternal forever and ever. We are infinite.
Thaddeus aka Hippy Potter is a NYC-based artist who creates bright and thought-provoking illustrations centered around amplifying Black voices while also focusing on diverse representation, Black queer joy and other important topics. Using vibrant technicolor hues and expressive shapes. His inspiring compositions simultaneously evoke powerful and playful emotions. A common thread of optimism runs strongly throughout his work creating empowering and personal moments between the artist and his viewers. Blending the aesthetics of 80s-era Japanese City Pop and Future Funk with the spirit of 90s-era cartoons, Thaddeus has shaped his own style of illustration that is filled with energy and personality.