When Annabelle Hayford, a first generation Ghanaian-American animator and illustrator organised #DrawWhileBlack she probably didn’t realise how much she’d light up Twitter. The 19 year-old Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) student who has interned with Warner Bros Studios started the hashtag #DrawingWhileBlack in order to appreciate black artists.
Annabelle shared the post both on Facebook and Twitter. The hashtag has been getting a lot of responses and reactions on Twitter. Various artists have been posting their works and location. Twitter became Disneyland during the weekend, fun filled, exotic, colourful and full of surprises.
Annabelle who works as an illustrator with INU INU confessed to not seeing her identity properly represented in the art world. She wanted the world to know that black artists exist and deserve the same amount of recognition white artists get too.
In a conversation with Refinery29 she said, “Of course there was backlash from others who felt that race has nothing to do with art, but those people need to realize that art isn’t in a vacuum. Your experiences affect your work and career, and that includes race.”
Annabelle on her tumblr page describes herself as loving cartoon and social activism is keen to see artists network together and hopefully get hired. The amount of shared work came from everywhere in the world. “We are here making art; we just need the resources, visibility, and understanding,” Annabelle said.
At a time when the discourse on race is heightened and has become the focus of conversations, the hashtag #DrawingWhileBlack is a huge contribution to the race discourse. As for her goal and what she hopes the hashtag would achieve, she was quoted by Refinery29 saying “I think the biggest takeaway from #DrawingWhileBlack is that it’s okay to be proud of who you are! Whether you are black and/or an artist, you should celebrate your identity — especially in places where you don’t see your identity represented.”
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