Let Your Voice Be Heard: How Artists Are Using Boarded Up Storefronts to Send Their Messages

Claire Weigus, Culture Editor

Due to protests and riots across the nation, stores have been forced to close yet again, with business owners everywhere taking precautions to prevent their shops and buildings from being looted or destroyed. Cities, once filled with shoppers and tourists, are now shuttered and filled with thousands protesters who need to be heard. However, these plain panels of plywood covering windows are not just for protecting businesses against theft- they have now become blank canvases for artists to share their powerful murals raising awareness on the Black Lives Matter movement. Lilianna Rivera, Fabio Esteban, Tyler Ives, Shara Shimabukuro, and Nick C Kirk are five artists who have recently taken on the responsibility to educate people on the mistreatment of African Americans through their artwork. 

Liliana Rivera is a designer who has involved herself in the Black Lives Matters movement with a mural reading “It’s MURDER”. On her Instagram account, @lilianariveradesigns, she captioned a post of her mural saying, “Stop justifying what’s going on, it’s MURDER!”. Liliana spent fifteen hours on July twenty-first painting a board covering MCM retail company at their Soho location. They did not return Liliana’s mural back to her and she is now worried that the company is trying to profit off her art. 

Another artist named Fabio Esteban created a mural on the boarded up windows of the fashion company Hugo Boss. The black and white mural captures hands tied together reaching for the word “esperanza”, which is Spanish for ope. On Instagram he posted a picture of his mural under the account @fabioesteban with the caption, “Today was a day of giving a little to humanity and what we need to overcome troubled times”. 

The sculpture and photographer Tyler Ives (@tylerivesnyc) also used boarded up windows to spread his message. “HEALTH ALERT DEADLY VIRUS. Please do not enter if you have the following symptoms: -Racism -Indifference -Silence”. He wanted his mural to be a reminder that racism is a public health crisis.

Shara Shimabukuro, a UX and Product Designer, decided to share her first ever mural in the city of Oakland with the words, “DADDY CHANGED THE WORLD,” a quote by Gianna Floyd. The background of the mural is signed with her Instagram handle @_shara_smile. 

Nick C Kirk made a mural of Martin Luther King with a board hanging around his neck reading one of King’s quotes, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”. He has replicated his M.L.K mural onto a cardboard sign, so he is able to take it to Black Lives Matter’s protests. Recently he said on an Instagram post he spends most of his time either “protesting, listening, or painting”. He has made several other paintings relating to the movement that can be found on his Instagram, @nickckirk.