Art and activism have long been a natural pairing. People like Shilo Shiv Suleman of Fearless Collective, a street art coalition promoting women’s rights in India, and Maria Qamar, who uses the Hatecopy Instagram to fight back against racism, are prime examples. And now, a new website called ArtLifting is empowering artists who are homeless and disabled. Get ready for all the feels, and a peek at some seriously incredible art.
The site was founded by Liz Powers, who received a grant from Harvard when she was just 18 years old to host art workshops in homeless shelters. She soon found out that there are a ton of incredibly talented artists who aren’t getting the recognition they deserve, simply because they don’t have a platform to share their work. “Amazing works of art were being produced, only to end up forgotten in the closets and basements of shelters,” the ArtLifting website explains.
So Liz and her brother Spencer Powers created ArtLifting, which serves as an online store where you can buy everything from prints to phone cases to greeting cards, all designed by artists who could use a little extra support. Perhaps the best part is that ArtLifting is instilling pride back into these artists, who are in tough financial and professional situations, often living in homeless shelters or low-income housing. Since its founding, the organization has grown to include 72 artists from 11 different states.
Liz and Spencer were able to launch ArtLifting by raising $1.1 million in venture capital funding last summer, a large chunk of the money coming from the founder of TOMS, the socially conscious shoe company. Here’s how they plan to stay afloat: Artists earn 55 percent from the sale of their work, with 1 percent going to a fund that provides art supplies to therapy groups, and the remaining 44 percent is funneled back into ArtLifting. “We realize that in order to make sustainable change, we need to run a financially sustainable business,” the site says.
And sustainable change is exactly what they’re creating, with artists like Dhyana H.J.F., who has faced employment discrimination due to her disability, now able to earn income by doing something they truly enjoy and that’s also therapeutic. “It makes me feel productive, proud and confident again,” Dhyana says on her ArtLifting artist page. “Art has become my lifeline.”
Plus, all of the art on the website is gorgeous. Buying a print is a serious win-win situation.
What’s your favorite piece from ArtLifting’s stock? Tweet us about it @BritandCo!
(Featured image via Getty)