Creativity thrives when it's shared with others, but what happens when minority artists’ voices are stifled? LIFEWTR partnered with Issa Rae for a new campaign that aims to give power back to artists from diverse communities.
“If you don't see people who look like you, it's hard for you to aspire to be them,” Zach Harris, vice president, water portfolio at PepsiCo Beverages North America, told Campaign US. “When unseen artists are seen, it inspires the next generation of creators.”
The campaign, called “Life Unseen,” supports diverse creatives with a four-pronged platform. The Life Unseen Study, developed by the Institute for Quantitative Study of Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (QSIDE), aims to increase awareness around the systemic disparities across fashion, film, music and visual arts for underrepresented backgrounds, including people of color, people with physical disabilities, the LGBTQ+ community and women.
Women created just 27.4% of contemporary art collected in major U.S. museums while Latinx women have created only 0.9% of such art, despite making up 8.3% of the U.S. population. Only less than 1% of creators in the study have a known physical disability despite an estimated 13% of the U.S. population having one.
LIFE WTR responded to the study with the Life Unseen Artist Collective, which features the work of 20 diverse artists across fashion, film, music and visual arts on LIFEWTR’s newest, and largest, bottle collection. The bottles roll out to retailers nationwide on May 17.
The campaign also includes a launch video that represents the damage done to artists whose work goes unnoticed. Shanée Benjamin, Christina Mallon, Gina Chavez and Anthony Blue Jr. star in the video, which is set to a voiceover by Yung Baby Tate. The spot was created with Color Creative, founded by Rae and Deniese Davis, which focuses on driving opportunities for underrepresented talent in film, TV and digital platforms.
Child, who directed the spot, described the ad as “channeling” all the “frustration that comes in this world in the art we make.”
Finally, LIFEWTR will extend the campaign to consumers with the #LifeUnseenContest, which people can enter by sharing an image or description of a project they want to create using the hashtag through July 30. Five artists will be chosen based on the power of their story, and the project's creativity and originality, and winners will receive $10,000 to fund their next creative project, a dedicated mentorship session with Rae and have their work added to the Life Unseen gallery on LIFEWTR.com.
“As a creative and an avid consumer, I’ve witnessed firsthand how bias flows through fashion, film, music, visual arts and other creative territories,” Rae said in a statement. “LIFEWTR understands that creativity literally doesn’t exist without diversity of culture, perspective and interpretation. Together, we’re inviting everyone to help shine a light so the work of unseen artists can be seen.”
But, the main takeaway from the campaign is that diverse artists simply want to be heard.
“I don't want people to think being a diverse person, disabled or gay comes with all this agony and pain,” Child said. “Hopefully, people walk away with [the message] that we felt like we're just screaming for help.”