By Meagan Kennedy
Elm Staff Writer
Cultivating an Instagram feed that sparks inspiration, creativity, and, most importantly, joy, is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Following a wide range of accounts with different interests can expose you to the beauty of creativity and connectivity online.
Artists, musicians, politicians, poets, chefs, activists, and other creatives use Instagram to share their art processes, words of wisdom, funny moments and other special parts of their liveswith an audience. Following their accounts is an easy way to connect with some of your favorites while also discovering new ones.
For food inspiration, @joythebaker is an accessible account for baking and cooking newbies and professionals alike.
Her lesser known @drakeoncake account, snapping photos of the singer Drake’s lyrics on elaborately decorated cakes, also has been a fan favorite since following it in 2015.
Cady Lang at Time Magazine said Joy’s accounts allowed her to “share the process of creating her magnificent sweets — often providing easy-to-adapt insights so her followers can recreate her baked goods at home.”
As many users have found since the beginning, Instagram allows its users to learn and explore more serious aspects of life like activism, politics, and human rights.
After the police-related death of George Floyd, Instagram became a central platform for activism and connecting people during Black Lives Matter protests and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Instagram had already been a space for organizing and activism, but overnight that seemed to become its primary purpose,” The New York Times’ Jillian Steinhauer said on May 25, describing how her feed changed after Floyd’s death.
“Calls to action, pictures and videos from demonstrations, and educational posts about defunding the police flooded into view.”
Accounts like @justiceforgeorgenyc have caught the attention of The New York Timesreporter Martha Schwendener. The account’s massive following untied protestors and allies to provide resources to help the BLM movement across New York City.
In early June, at the height of BLMprotests, @justiceforgeorgenyc provided information on events, police brutality, protesting safety, and human rights for its almost 263,000 followers.
It continues to provide information and updates through art, poetry, graphics, and other creative outlets for its followers daily.
One of its more recent posts provided protest locations, meeting information, and work from local artists for New Yorkers on Oct. 19 protesting for taxing the rich, against the NYPD, and the layoffs of workers at Washington Square Park.
These events included sponsoring mass donations and gatherings across New York, including Winter Wear Donations at Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn and the Peoples’ March for the Residents of Astoria Houses at LIC Courthouse in Queens.
Some artists include Lynette Yiadom-Boakye (@lynetteyiadomboakye), who explores the beauty of Black culture in her art while also using her platform to appreciate the work of other Black artists.
“Artists supporting other artists is heartening [in a field rife with competition] … her post offers up these objects for admiration,”Schwendener saidthis past June of her work.
Yiadom-Boakye most recently posted this past August, in support of Nigerian-American contemporary visual artist Toyin Ojih Odutola, located in Brooklyn, NY. She shares photos and videos of Odutola’s work titled “A Countervailing Theory” featured at the Barbican Curve Gallery.
Artist Damon Davis, @damondavis, best known for his documentary “Whose Streets?” hasalso used Instagramto share his artwork, more recently sculptures of Black men made from crystals and concrete.
In his art, Davis explores police brutality and experiencesof young Black men in America through various mediums. He had made waves in the film world, digital painting realm, and in more classical areas of art with his most recent sculptures collection “Cracks.”
Richmond VA Magazine’s account @rvamag has become a platform to showcase smaller photographers and artists across Virginia in the battle for human rights. Photographers and artists posted by these larger publications like RVA Magazine have given these artists the ability to share their message with a greater audience.
Steinhauer reported “the governor of Virginia announced plans to remove the statue” after RVA Magazine shared a photo of protesters surrounding a statue of confederate Robert E. Lee by photographer Jiggy the Creative. Accounts like these have power beyond their posts.
Instagram has provided a starting point —and a home —for many creatives in the past decade. Without it, many would not have been able to develop their voices and, more specifically in today’s climate, information of human rights movements would not be as easily accessible.
On April 3, fashion consultant and designer Willy Ndatira, @williamcult, posted about hope for the future in the uncertainty of the pandemic.
Titled “not everything is cancelled,” his photosdescribe theexistingbeauty and creativity that remains even inthe mostdifficult times. It lists what remains: hope, love, music, kindness, conversations, and others.
His account provides several Instagram stories of resources in support of BLM and highlights the art and stories of Black artists globally.
One of the most popular accounts on this list at over 11 million followers, is Brandon Stanton’s photography account, @humansofny, which highlights the lives of residents across New York City.
According to Stanton’s website, “Humans of New York began as a photography project in 2010. The initial goal was to photograph 10,000 New Yorkers on the street and create an exhaustive catalogue of the city’s inhabitants.”
Now, regularly interviewing thousands of New Yorkers, Stanton continues to tell the everyday lives of New Yorkers both on social media and in several published books.
Instagram accounts that celebrate the beauty of art and culture, allwhile still providing useful resources. They have become more prominent throughout this decade,specificallythis year, demonstrating the power of connection and influence through social media and art.
According to The New York Times, exploring different accounts like these continue to spark followers with creativity and inspiration to create and use their voices for good— andat a time like this, that is exactly what people need.
Featured Photo caption: If you’re searching for some creativity online, here are a few Instagram accounts you can check out. Photo by Rebecca Kanaskie.