By United Way of Greater Atlanta

United Way of Greater Atlanta recently unveiled a new partnership with the artist community amplifying the importance of equity to improve child well-being. At United Way of Greater Atlanta, our North Star is to improve the well-being of children and families in the community, and central to that vision is ensuring that everyone, regardless of race, identity or circumstances, has the opportunity achieve their potential and gain economic stability.

According to The Public Library of Science, 85% of the works in the collections of all major US museums belong to white men. African Americans have the lowest share – just 1%. And a report based on data from the US Census and the American Community Survey found that 78% of artists earning their primary income from their work are white.

That’s why United Way of Greater Atlanta partnered with ComfiArt, an Atlanta company founded by Dionna Collins that empowers Black artists and artists of colors to create art while monetizing their work. Despite artists of color garnering more attention from the industry, only a small percentage of them can sustainably earn income from their artwork.

Through this mutually beneficial partnership, both United Way of Greater Atlanta and ComfiArt are expanding their reach in the Greater Atlanta community. Both organizations share similar values, so teaming up to create something new and exciting was a natural next step. “[The partnership is] connected to our work around economic stability, which is focused on building wealth for children and families in the Greater Atlanta region,” said Kim Addie, United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Associate Vice President of Place-Based Initiatives.

One featured artist, Marryam Moma is a Tanzanian-Nigerian collage artist who is currently creating in Atlanta. With her craft blade and through layers of paper and other mediums, Marryam created a cityscape outlining the 13 counties of Greater Atlanta, sharing her vision of a better future. “My collage is really centered around this Eden of community – how many hands can we get to contribute to this vision?” Marryam said.

Another featured artist, Yuzly Mathurin is a Haitian American mural artist whose work can be seen in the Poncey-Highland neighborhood. Yuzly has utilized United Way’s 2-1-1 services before, so being involved in this partnership was extra special for her. “I have a big place in my heart for United Way, and that’s why I’m so excited to create work, to really get the messaging out, to get people to be more aware of what [United Way] offers,” she said. Yuzly’s digital mural for the partnership depicts two women in Piedmont Park, celebrating the vibrancy of the city and the promise it holds for a more equitable future.

We launched the partnership with Artfully United, a lively event hosted at Atlanta Contemporary Art Center. Small business owners and members of the city’s creative community came together to see the unveiling of Marryam’s and Yuzly’s artwork, hear from guest speakers, and buy merchandise from the collaboration. Guest speakers included Mayor Andre Dickens, Milton Little, and Atlanta Influences Everything founder Bem Joiner. In addition to highlighting the artists and partnership, the speakers emphasized how important the arts are to Atlanta and communities everywhere. “Atlanta is a group project. Everyone has to put in on this group project – something is required of every last one of us. Our artists and small business owners are definitely putting in by making this place beautiful,” Mayor Andre Dickens said.

Click here to view the event photo album on Facebook

Click here to watch the video of the event

The two art pieces that came from this partnership were born out of a shared vision for greater equity and brighter future for Greater Atlanta. You can support this vision, these artists, and our mission by wearing the art! “I think it’s so powerful because as wearable art, it can move, right? So, there’s information that’s traveling. That for me is what art and activism do together. It gives us this bigger story of a solution that we dream of, that we hope for,” Marryam said. T-shirts, totes, fanny packs, and more are available for purchase, and you can explore the collections here. Sale proceeds go to ComfiArt, the artists, and the Child Well-Being Mission Fund.

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