The preparations for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, have been anything but standard. Multiple terror attacks have erupted throughout Russia as the games near, amplifying the expected concerns over ensuring security during such an event. On top of that, in late June, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law a bill that bans the promotion of “nontraditional sexual relations” toward minors. Using children as a scapegoat, the bill has been ridiculed as it disallows any type of gay pride activities, such as parades. Harsh fines accompany any “offenses,” leading gay athletes and spectators alike to fear discrimination and even arrest. This bill has triggered international outcry, as it places crosshairs on Russia’s gay community and visitors to the country.
Anna Goodson, CEO and founder of Anna Goodson Illustration, was deeply disturbed when she heard this news. She reached out to the international group of illustrators that her agency represents with an article detailing Putin’s backhanded move, and asking them if they wanted to “make a statement” about what was going on. As Goodson shares on her blog, the reaction was an overwhelming “yes.”
From there, out of an enthusiastic response from the art community, Art Speaks Louder Than Words was born. The project objective was simple: Illustrators represented by the agency were to create illustrations that symbolized their feelings against discrimination in Russia or showed their support toward the LGBT community. The images all vary in style but stand united in their sentiment. Tony Healey shows the iconic Russian bear donning a rainbow-striped ushanka. Andy Potts illustrates the flame-like domes of Saint Basil’s Cathedral, located in Moscow’s Red Square, in a myriad of rainbow colors.
The project has been celebrated in both the creative and LGBT communities alike. “I was surprised at how quickly people supported the cause and wanted to talk about it and share it,” Goodson says. “The best part of the project is getting the feedback from people from all over the world showing support for gay rights.”
Goodson aims to keep the momentum going from this project, even showcasing these images on her annual holiday promo — a set of coasters — sent to clients and friends. “This is by far one of the projects that I’m the most proud of in my career,” she says.
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