Each day during the past few weeks, artists, musicians and other creative Austinites have been adding their gifts of expression to protests against police brutality and systemic racism.
Among them are Akash Kataria, a photographer, and Ashton Chase, a painter, who collaborated on a series of images directly related to Black Lives Matter protests. All proceeds from sales of the images benefit the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
“I chose these images because I wanted to show my subjects as powerful,” says Kataria, who met Chase in 2015 during South by Southwest and has been documenting the protests. “All too often, protest photography does not treat its subjects with respect, and I wanted to use the camera in a way that did. The camera angles are all looking up at these brave people fighting for their rights in the face of adversity, which invites the viewer to be inspired to stand up for social justice.”
Chase added psychedelic backdrops to the images.
“Last week, I saw photos (Kataria) took at the Austin Black Lives Matter protests and was moved by their strength,” Chase says. “I reached out and asked if I could use some of his photographs for an art project that would benefit the NAACP. After he agreed, I collaged his photographs with my fluid painting and sold a limited amount of physical art prints.”
The visual connection to the 1960s is deliberate.
“The significance of the swirling abstractions in the backgrounds is an expression of the turbulence felt during this movement,” Chase says. “I created them using a fluid art pouring method. The psychedelic feeling of the backgrounds is a nod to the 1960s. This time in history feels especially important now as we revisit protests against racism and conversations about police brutality.”
Although Chase’s numbered physical prints sold out in about 24 hours, an open edition series of the images printed on aluminum is available at protestatx.darkroom.tech. She is also offering digital images to be printed at home or used as phone backgrounds at ashtonchase.us, as long as one sends along a screenshot or receipt of a donation to a group that benefits the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I have a modest social media following on my art Instagram page and wanted to use my platform for good,” Chase says. “My hope is that those who purchased the prints will look upon the artwork for years to come and be reminded to keep working towards social justice.”
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