The “Your Actions Save Lives” art campaign features murals by Haitian-American artist Serge Gay Jr.
Bo Téfu | California Black Media
California’s “Your Actions Save Lives” art campaign recently unveiled two “Safety First” murals in San Francisco.
The artwork, created by Grammy-nominated visual artist Serge Gay Jr., was commissioned to encourage people to continue taking security measures against COVID19 even though the state reopened last month, according to the governor’s office.
One mural is located in the Castro, the city’s famous historic ‘gay quarter’, as some locals affectionately call it, and the other, in the Tenderloin, near the city center – two well-known neighborhoods anchored in the famous history of the city of Golden Gate. Left-wing political organization and visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ +) people.
The Tenderloin mural, which Gay dedicates to the city’s transgender community, was inspired by the idea of ”breaking free because during the pandemic we were all at home and kind of stuck there,” said Gay. The mural, he explains, emphasizes the feeling of being free, “once you are vaccinated you have that experience again, that freedom to walk around the city,” he said. -he explains.
Gay’s second work is located at 2390 Market Street in the Castro. Gay says he chose the Castro District strategically because the area has a history that is committed to the safety and protection of the LGBTQ + community.
The state says the “Your Actions Save Lives” campaign is providing Californians with information on what they can do to help stem the spread of COVID-19. To spread the word, he’s partnered with the Sierra Health Foundation Center and 20 local artists across the state to reach out to communities hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The project engages Latino, Black / African American, Asian / Pacific Islander, Native American / Native and LGBTQ artists and communities,” according to a press release from the governor’s office.
According to the organizers of the art initiative, it is designed to raise awareness of the critical actions Californians have taken to help stop the spread of COVID-19, such as wearing a mask, washing hands, removing them. physical and vaccination. “These accomplished artists tap into their culture and creativity to share empowering messages with communities that have been hit hard by COVID-19. Art has incredible power and we believe these works will spark important conversations, connections and inspiration statewide, ”said Chet P. Hewitt, President and CEO of the Sierra Health Foundation Center. .
According to Gay, he celebrates the Tenderloin for its inclusion of blacks and browns. Message behind mural emphasizes freedom of movement after COVID-19 pandemic and encourages audiences to get vaccinated, says artist whose collaboration with director Matt Stawski earned him a Grammy nomination for Best short video.
“I really wanted to show the visibility of our trends as well,” Gay said. The work Gay produced for the statewide art project captures the diversity of Blacks and Browns in San Francisco’s LBGTQ + community. Gay says that because of his own personal experiences, he realizes that it is important to represent blacks and browns in his work. He remembers feeling unwanted and invisible when he first left Miami in San Francisco. “Being part of the LGBT community is just wanting to have the opportunity to show diversity in everything,” Gay said.
As a third generation artist, Gay wants black people to recognize themselves in his works. When he sees black-centric artwork, Gay says, he often thinks to himself, “It’s me, it resonates with me when I see another artist painting something that I can relate to. The handsome artist attributes his artistic style (some critics have described it as graphic realism) – as well as his personal flair – to his Haitian culture and heritage as well as his upbringing in Miami, which taught him life lessons. on the importance of community.
As a Haitian-American artist, Gay wants his work to indicate that darkness is not a monolith. Gay pays homage to his Haitian roots through his artwork that celebrates various black communities in the Bay Area – African Americans as well as African and Caribbean immigrants, he explains. “I feel like everything is like a celebration of our culture, our identity and our roots. So I tend to put a lot to the side in my work, bringing in the new immigrant story, almost like an alien perspective. ”
Although there is misinformation and misinformation, Gay wants his work to reassure people that the vaccine is safe. Racial disparities in the healthcare system have had a devastating impact on black communities across the country. Gay pointed out that the number of lives lost to COVID-19 in black and brown communities indicates that people need to be vaccinated.
Gay says the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted various black communities to “come together to fight for a cause.” He said it was important for black and brown communities to “remember what we have learned from it and understand how we are going and how we will face it next time.”
Through his works, Gay takes responsibility for “educating people to look back on what happened in the past and learn from the past,” he said.