Discovering Nikkolas Smith, the social activist and artist

I tried some virtual discovery and I found Nikkolas Smith, activist and digital artist.

Virtual museums and exhibitions are trending since March, sometimes more, sometimes less. First, due to restrictions for physical traveling, many museums and destinations chose to make online visits through Facebook live videos or similar platforms. Second, virtual discovery became the thing to try.

Meanwhile, the need for meaningful activism is bigger than ever.

It was a random afternoon in October 2020, and I was feeling slightly down due to all the uncertainty. However, there was something exciting I had just discovered and started using – Skillshare! After noticing some truly exciting courses on the platform, I registered, and the first course I picked was – Artivism:create inspiring Art for Change from Nicholas Smith.

He is a digital artist, so he uses a graphic software along with an external device to paint. It is a medium that offers immense possibilities for creation. Although I personally don’t make digital art, I like seeing other people’s works.

Nikkolas Smith
Nikkolas Smith giving a closing speech for his Skillshare course

Important: Visuals in the rest of this article are embedded directly, without download, from the artist’s official website. They are protected by copyright, and shared on Fun Museums only to illustrate the story. So, it is not endorsement of any kind.

The art of activism

To clarify, I need to say that Nikkolas Smith is focused on his own community and struggles. He is an Afroamerican. Other people belong to different kinds of communities and they also live in other part of the world, having their own specific struggles. The purpose of this virtual discovery is to show how art can explain a lot of things and inspire us for a change.

Further, this was quite a special discovery since it started from an online course, and not exactly a virtual museum or art platform. At the moment when I started attending the course, I didn’t know who Nikkolas Smith was. It was the very first time I learned about him, but it took just very little for me to adore his work.

Most importantly, he doesn’t focus on tools or form in his art lecture. Instead, he is constantly focused on message, on subject, on substance. Throughout the 10 separate lessons, he makes progress on one sample artwork to which he gives a special touch of emotions, struggles, and hope.

Nikkolas Smith: Simone the GOAT, Greeting card.

After the course I decided to do a further research about Nikkolas’ work. I specially liked the illustration of Simone Biles, the American artistic gymnast – Simone the GOAT. She is widely considered to be one of the greatest gymnasts of all time, therefore the popular acronym G.O.A.T. (The Greatest of All Time). Above all, Simone is the figure of inspiration amongst underprivileged Afroamericans.

Nikkolas Smith and Fun Museums Social

Relatable art is the best art. That is to say, there is always some social story to tell. It is up to us to decide how to tell it. After all, we need to dare. That is why I choose Nikkolas Smith for my first story of virtual discovery in 2021, and for one of the first stories within Fun Museums Social program.

I am not American, but European. To be precise, I am a Southern European, from Croatia. Also, I am a white woman. In conclusion, my context is a total contrast to Nikkolas’ context. Still, I was able to relate with him so well during that course. He was incredibly successful in expressing his own struggle.

Nikkolas Smith: Meet as Many
Nikkolas Smith: Meet as Many (greeting card)

In fact, a white person can’t really understand the common and structural racism. In other words, being white is a natural privilege in terms of how you are treated. Let’s not forget that people of different colours are treated differently, one way or another. Nikkolas is able to say it in a humane, relatable way.

Nikkolas Smith: Poofy
Nikkolas Smith: Poofy (greeting card)

All the bones need to be fine for the body to work well.

I could take several great quotes from Nikkolas course, but I will take one from the beginning, a perfect introduction that makes you stay in the course.

One thing I think is really helpful is if we view the world as a body.

Now, of course if you look out into the world, you will see that there are parts of his body that are not functioning correctly.

There’s broken bones.

What is that broken bone that you wish was fixed?

Nikkolas Smith

Follow Fun Museums during this month, for more incredible Fun Museums Social stories! Do you have your own social or activist story to share? If yes, become a guest writer!

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