By Bo Tefu, California Black Media

More than 20 California artists partnered with the state for the “Your Actions Save Lives” campaign. The effort was created to uplift and celebrate the resilience of communities and encourage safe practices that stop the spread of COVID-19 as Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plans to reopen the state on June 15.

The 14 original art projects included in the campaign range from murals, interactive exhibits, and live performances from artists based in communities highly impacted by the COVID-19, including Oakland, Sacramento, Stockton and San Diego.

“The arts have an opportunity to be uplifting and healing to your emotions,” said Jessica Wimbley, an African American digital artist who collaborated with the state for an advertisement on an Oak Park billboard in Sacramento and a digital art display at Arden Fair Mall in Sacramento.

“It’s been a breath of fresh air to work on this campaign. There’s been so much negativity and divisiveness that’s happening in the world that is heavy on the spirit,” said Wimbley.

“It’s been transformative to work on this project,” she added.

The campaign shows us that, “we can move forward, and we are moving forward. We all have things to live for,” she said.

The state partnered with the Center at Sierra Health Foundation in Sacramento for the project which relies on the power of art to communicate the importance of health awareness in addition to getting vaccinated.

“These accomplished artists are tapping into their culture and creativity to share empowering messages with communities that have been hard hit by COVID-19,” said Chet P. Hewitt, president and CEO of the Sierra Health Foundation.

“Art has incredible power, and we believe these works will spark important conversations, connections, and inspiration throughout the state,” he said.

Four female artists, including Wimbley, have used the project to tap into their respective cultures to create powerful visual artworks that empower and inform their diverse communities.

Sunroop Kaur, a classical artist, whose Spring mural is located in Stockton was inspired by her Punjabi-Sikh heritage. The interactive installation, ‘Benevolent Animals, Dangerous Animals,’ by Masako Miki located in Oakland’s Chinatown was inspired by Japanese folklore. In San Diego, the mural ‘Stop the Spread’ by Tatiana Ortiz-Rubio honors her Mexican heritage.

In addition to the art campaign, Newsom recently announced a $116.5 million incentive program that will reward people in California for getting vaccinated. The state allotted $100 million in grocery gift cards worth $50 each for the next two million people who get vaccinated. The remaining $16.5 million will be awarded as cash prizes to people who have been vaccinated across the state. More than 17 million people in California are fully vaccinated which is about 44 % of the state’s population. The incentive program aims to encourage everyone in California to get vaccinated with a goal to reopen the state by mid-June this year.

State officials say they are determined to fully reopen California schools and businesses in efforts to help the economy recover.

Black and Brown families continue to experience the brunt of the economic blow caused by COVID-19 despite the state’s efforts for community outreach to minimize hardship in their respective communities.

The artists featured in the state’s “Your Actions Save Lives” campaign hope to communicate messages of unity and solidarity through art influenced by their different cultures.