7 Beautiful #ShellNo Creations Show the Power of ‘Artivism’

by Ryan Schleeter

August 10, 2015

Art and activism go hand-in-hand. Not just because the two words seamlessly combine to create the catchy portmanteau ‘artivism,’ but because both are built on exposing hidden truths through creative communication.

One hundred artists, under the direction of world-renowned artist Alfredo Segatori, painted a 300-meter long #ShellNo mural in the center of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

© Greenpeace / Martin Katz

To borrow the definition of artist/activist collective the Artivist Project, artivism is a way to “get important messages in front of the eyes that need to see them in a way that will make them look.”

Two weeks ago in Portland, Oregon, we saw the eyes of the world squarely focused on a message that has become impossible to ignore: stopping Shell Oil from drilling in the Arctic. For roughly 40 hours, Greenpeace climbers suspended themselves from Portland’s St. Johns Bridge to block the Fennica, a Shell vessel bound for Alaskan waters. Their act of courage captivated activists and artists around the world, resulting in works of art that are equal parts beautiful and powerful.

Here are some of our favorites.

1. If Monet Were an Activist

Were legendary French impressionist Claude Monet alive and saying #ShellNo today, we like to imagine these are the types of paintings he would have created.

This beautiful oil painting and sketches by Gabriel Liston showcase both the beauty of the bridge blockade as well as the beauty of Portland’s natural landscape—scenery well worth protecting from the devastating impacts of climate change!

2. The Patron Saint of Last Chances

This illustration by Portland artist Amanda Blix is captioned with the phrase “patron saint of last chances.” Her words are apt, as right now it’s President Obama’s last chance to reject Shell’s Arctic drilling plans.

3. Murals All the Way to Argentina

The Arctic matters for all of us, and the movement to save it is as global as it gets. This beautiful mural popped up on a wall in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Courtesy of Greenpeace Argentina, watch a video of its creation here:

4. No, You Rock!

This one gets a big thanks from us! Artist John Daniel Teply painted this mural on the side of the Atelier Gallery in Portland, blocks away from the heart of the action, as the bridge blockade unfolded.

Greenpeace Rocks

Artist John Daniel Teply touches up his artwork on the side of his Atelier Gallery in Portland, Oregon August 1, 2015. Photo by Greenpeace.

5. Life’s a Stitch

Some folks got particularly creative, like the Vancouver-based designer who embroidered this scene of bridge climbers and kayaktivists …

#handembroidery #shellno #pnw @greenpeace

A photo posted by Stacey TL (@tiggirl) on

6. Saving the Arctic Is No Piece of Cake

… and the Portland bakery that immortalized the St. Johns Bridge blockade in frosting and flowers.

7. Settling in With a Paintbrush

Local artist Quin Sweetman paints the scene mere feet from Portland’s St. Johns Bridge in Cathedral Park. Click here to see the final product she created.

Save the Arctic

Artist Quin Sweetman paints the scene of activists hanging under the St. Johns Bridge in Portland, Oregon. Photo by Greenpeace.

Your Art Can Help Save the Arctic

Whether they were watching from afar, nestled in Cathedral Park watching events unfold with their own eyes, or only heard about the blockade in the following days, artists and activists poured their creative energy into the #ShellNo movement—and we thank them for it!

It takes all of us to stand up to corporate greed and speak truth to power. Every ounce of people power—displayed through art, activism, or any other means—counts to keep this movement strong.

Don’t forget to take action! Add your voice to call on President Obama to save the Arctic.

Ryan Schleeter

By Ryan Schleeter

Ryan Schleeter is a senior communications specialist with Greenpeace USA covering climate and energy. His writing has appeared in National Geographic, Grist, GreenBiz, EcoWatch, and more. Find him on Twitter @ryschlee.

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