Activism Through Art
In Q& A, student Lauren Daniels shares how her work speaks to justice, equity
Cal State East Bay business and marketing student Lauren Daniels, 21, is an artist who paints under the name “Pieces by Peezy.” Her most recent pieces in Palm Springs and downtown Oakland on plywood near the police department speak to activism in the current Black Lives Matter movement. East Bay Magazine recently sat down with Daniels to talk about her work, art and activism. (These answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.)
When did you start painting, and why?
When I was a child, my mom, who is creative as well, would always have us painting or doing some kind of craft. And then in high school I started working with the Associated Student Body making posters with cartoon-like characters for pep rallies and events, and I realized kids started taking my posters home with them. I saw people painting on Twitter and realized I could do that too.
What inspires your work?
The things around me, things I see or things that upset me. I like to make protest art because I feel there are things these days that that need to be said. So I put that into my art. I feel it’s often things that can be controversial but also influential. For example, my Black Lives Matter piece is a symbol of how the city was responding to the protests; seeing the wood on all the storefronts was a symbol in itself and a blank canvas.
Tell me about your piece in Oakland and why you created it.
I like to use quotes and messages in my work, and this [piece in downtown Oakland] was something I had already done as a digital art piece and thought ‘this needs to be in the real world.’ It is a vibrant piece with a TV screen showing what looks like an error, and has a quote about how the media controls the masses. We all like to look to TV and feed into it; these days you can look at the news station that fits your beliefs instead of having a neutral source of information.
What has been the response so far?
I’ve gotten so much love. People I don’t even know will stop by to take pictures. I think people resonate so much with it because it’s here in the outside world. To see something about how we feel on the inside, that’s on the outside and not hiding behind a profile, is powerful.
Do you consider your art a form of activism and why?
I definitely think art is activism. Music, art, they persuade people and connect them on a deeper level. You can know a lot about somebody by the type of art they enjoy or the music they listen to.
What’s next for you?
I want to continue making protest art and build my business, not just in California, but I want to travel and make my art in different places. This is an international problem.
Where can people find your piece and other work you’ve done?