SVA Community Responses to the Black Lives Matter Movement Pt. 3
July 16, 2020
The cover of Vanity Fair magazine, featuring Viola Davis wearing an open-backed deep blue dress. Her back faces the viewer, her left hand is on her hip and the viewer can see the left profile of her face.

Viola Davis on the cover of the July/August 2020 issue of Vanity Fair. Photo: Dario Calmese.

Credit: Dario Calmese/Vanity Fair

As worldwide actions against systemic racism and police brutality continue—set against the backdrop of an ongoing pandemic that is disproportionately affecting communities of color and worsening inequality—there has been a wave of donations, incisive commentary and moving artwork in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. As in recent weeks, we have collected below a selection of BLM-related work, created by SVA community members.


Dario Calmese (MPS 2012 Fashion Photography) is the first Black photographer to shoot the cover of Vanity Fair. “For me, this cover is my protest,” Calmese told The New York Times. His stunning cover photo of actress Viola Davis is a recreation of The Scourged Back (1863), a portrait of an enslaved man with severe whipping scars on his back. For Calmese, the image is “about rewriting an old story. ‘Not only around slavery, but also the white gaze on Black bodies, and transmuting that into something of elegance and beauty and power,’ he said.”

Alex Angel (BFA 2020 Design) shared this bold illustration in remembrance of George Floyd and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Renee Cox's (MFA 1992 Photography and Related Media) work is featured in a group exhibition, "100 Years, 100 Women," marking the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, affirming women's right to vote, as well as Vogue's recent article, "13 Black Artists on Life in America Right Now."

Kip Omalade (MFA 1991 Media Arts) shared this photograph, with an insightful essay about the correlation between his experiences and his art.

Gene Lu (MFA 2011 Interaction Design) frequently makes GPS art—he maps out elaborate routes designed to create detailed drawings. He ran the route below for Juneteenth and shared turn-by-turn directions so others can do it, too.

Lorna Simpson (BFA 1982 Photography) posted an animated work, with a powerful caption, to her Instagram, @lornasimpson.