Artistic Expressions of BLM

Ayva Borelli, Student, Fitchburg State University

For my mini-exhibition I wanted to choose a topic that I felt strongly about and that I knew I would enjoy digging deeper into. The reason that I chose to do my mini-exhibition on the Black Lives Matter movement is because it is one of the most current movements right now and there are lots of resources such as photographs, articles, and songs that show why this movement is so relevant and how much its importance really matters. Police brutality and racial justice have been highly discussed topics, constantly in news articles or on the news channel when you turn on the television, but after the deaths and murders of many African-Americans such as George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, the movement really escalated.

Another inspiration behind me choosing this as my topic was all of the movements that have circled over the past year, including the most popular that really gave the movement publicity and attention, the #BlackOutTuesday and the #BlackLivesMatter hashtags, which have been used over 1.7 million times on Twitter when it surfaced in 2013 and its usage has only continued to grow. Back in 2013 the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter became ubiquitous across social media. It first emerged following the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of unarmed Black teen Trayvon Martin. As the scourge of police brutality failed to subside over the years, the movement only evolved and strengthened. The BLM movement sustained its momentum and activism after the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown by a white police officer (Smith, "BLM: From a Single Hashtag to a Singular Movement"). The movement has really grabbed my attention across the platform TikTok, as I have really been able to see how many victims and stories involving police brutality and racial justice go unheard and simply become another statistic. 

For my first catalog entry, I was thinking about how I can learn more about the movement and express it in ways that would be different from what my classmates were going to write about and use as artifacts, and rather than focusing on the negatives and violence I chose to use different forms of artistic expression that spread a positive message about the movement. For my first artifact I thought it would have been a good idea to see if there were any local artists who used songwriting to promote the movement and change, and upon researching I instantly thought of one of my favorite artists who is originally from Worcester, Massachusetts, named Joyner Lucas. His song was a direct representation of racial stereotypes and how Black culture is misrepresented and interpreted. This artifact was so significant because it speaks to a younger audience and educates the youth about how Black people are so misunderstood and how we need to enforce real change.

For my second catalog entry I chose to write about a piece of art that displayed sentimental meaning to every artist who took part in creating it. Large letters spelling out “BLACK LIVES MATTER” were individually painted by different artists outside of the DCU Center in Worcester about ten minutes from where I live in my hometown of Auburn.

For my third catalog entry my idea was to display the Black Lives Matter Movement through something that would draw people in, so I used my local New England baseball team the Boston Red Sox and used their support and compliance with the movement. Originally I was not going to even use this as one of my artifacts, but after I completed my first entry I went on a day trip to Boston with some of my friends, and because you have to take the MassPike into Boston, I had to pass Fenway Park where I saw a ginormous billboard displaying “BLACK LIVES MATTER” in their iconic and famous font. The second I saw the billboard and realized how perfect the location was and how much attention it really did draw, I instantly knew I wanted to use a photograph of the billboard as one of my artifacts and dig deeper into the Red Sox and their intentions behind it. Of course upon researching, I came to find that the owner of the Red Sox wanted this sign on display to back the racial injustice some players and former players have felt and to display their agreement on every life mattering equally. One retired outfielder Torii Hunter admitted that he has been called the N-word by younger fans several times and admitted that he has heard more racist remarks in Boston than any other city in the country, and I liked the idea of the Red Sox Foundation having their players' backs. 

When I put all of these artifacts together, my thought process was to pick three artifacts to write about that spread a positive message about the movement, and I tried to use different artistic forms that represented why the Black Lives Matter movement is worth supporting and taking part in. I put all of these specific artifacts together because each offers a different form of representation and all speak different messages. The first artifact being a song speaks to a younger audience and speaks on racial stereotypes but offers an educational white male and African-American male perspective. The second artifact was an art piece painted by many artists and depicts each individual artist's interpretation and their emotions involving the movement and highlights features of each of their African-American culture and heritage. One of the artists who worked on the mural said, “It incites the passion within us to carry on in a way that can’t be ignored. It unified creative minds and gave hope to many people who needed it, Some people just see a dumb mural. But what it does is it brings attention to the immediate need for these conversations to be had and shoves that in the faces of our leaders and nay-sayers.” The third piece I chose was a billboard that looks over one of the largest New England turnpikes. All three of my artifacts represents a different type of art form.

The significance of my artifacts is personal. I have an uncle as well as a best friend who is African-American, and I listen to them tell me stories every day about the racism and criticism that they have to deal with on a daily basis. Another purpose behind my artifacts is they all have made me become more involved in the movement. I have personally viewed the mural in Worcester, I have listened to “I’m Not Racist” on repeat and really dove into the meaning behind his lyrics and why he interpreted the music video the way that he did, and I have had my eyes drawn to the massive billboard on Fenway Stadium while driving into Boston. These were all pieces that immediately entered my mind when I chose to write on the Black Lives Matter Movement because I knew these were all artifacts I would enjoy researching and writing about. Every piece of information and every source I chose to use for my mini- exhibition provides a message about why you should support the movement and try and find a way to spread positive change. This movement is something I truly support and have gotten involved in myself, and through doing this exhibition project I was able to voice my own thoughts and opinions on the movement, almost as if I created my own artifact in itself. I was also educated beyond my knowledge while researching all of my artifacts as well, and I am hoping that this project not only has an impact on me but can impact others as well and spread the message of ending discrimination and loving everybody for who they are no matter what skin color, ethnicity, gender, or any differences that they may possess. #loveequally.

Chughtai, Alia. “Know Their Names: Black People Killed by the Police in the US.” Al Jazeera Interactives, 18 Apr. 2021,

Hanson, Melissa.“See Photos of Worcester's Black Lives Matter Mural, with Unique Designs in Each Letter by Local Artists.” Masslive, 15 July 2020, nique-designs-in-each-letter-by-local-artists.html.

Janfaza, Rachel, director. "TikTok Serves as Hub for #Blacklivesmatter Activism. CNN," 4 June 2020,

RapGeniusVideo, director. "Joyner Lucas 'I'm Not Racist' Official Lyrics & Meaning | Verified." YouTube,

Smith, Deyscha. “Sam Kennedy Explained the 'Black Lives Matter' Billboard Outside Fenway Park.”, 23 July 2020, matter-billboard-fenway-park.

Smith, Eileen. "BLM: From a Single Hashtag to a Singular Movement." Velocitize, 23 Feb. 2021, ent/.