August 29, 2018

These murals have a hidden message

Allstate Foundation Purple Purse commissioned 6 public art projects across the country to promote awareness of financial abuse

Six murals across the country, this one in New York City by artist Isabel Castillo Guijarro, are embedded with a hidden message that can be revealed when using an Instagram filter. Allstate Foundation Purple Purse commissioned the pieces to spread awareness about financial abuse.

A crop of female street artists are changing the way we think about Instagram and art. In six cities across the nation–Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, and Seattle–these artists are creating massive murals with a hidden message about financial abuse. These colorful public art pieces, a project of Allstate Foundation Purple Purse, are meant to encourage dialogue about financial abuse and to inspire its viewers to think about how art and social media can be used as platforms for social change.

“Social change is hard to drive, especially when the topic isn’t frequently talked about,” said Lindsay DeThorne, philanthropy associate manager for Purple Purse. “In our culture of oversharing, one in three people still believe that discussing domestic violence is taboo. We decided to create these murals to bring this difficult subject to light and encourage people to talk about an issue they might not normally.”

Each beautiful mural, designed in the unique and varied style of its respective artist, is created to drive this important awareness of domestic violence, and specifically financial abuse. Financial abuse is involved in 99 percent of domestic violence cases and is often the reason victims cannot escape. Purple Purse has empowered more than 1.3 million survivors through its educational resources, and The Allstate Foundation has invested more than $60 million to educate the public on financial abuse and provide survivor services.

Visitors to the murals are encouraged to find its hidden message, revealed through the Instagram “Moon” filter. You simply snap a picture, upload it to Instagram, and apply the filter to see the newly revealed message.

The campaign kicked off with its first mural in New York City, which was unveiled by tennis champion and Purple Purse program ambassador Serena Williams and artist Isabel Castillo Guijarro, who painted the mural. Teaming up with Purple Purse allowed Guijarro to learn more about financial abuse and think deeper about how her artwork can create change.

“It’s great to work on something with meaning behind it that can start a conversation and create impact,” Guijarro said. “I’ve always thought about physical abuse, not financial abuse, and I hope my viewers react the same way I did and learn how creating financial restraints is a part of abuse.”

As Guijarro progresses in her artistic career, she’s become increasingly aware of how she can weave social messages into her artwork.

Los Angeles mural by artist Carolyn Suzuki.

“Initially, for me, artwork was about making something beautiful or pretty,” Guijarro said. “But the more I work on different projects, the more I realize if there’s some meaning behind it or if it’s tied to some organization, then there’s an impact. This makes it more powerful than just being pretty. I’m trying to do this more with my work and make it inclusive, diverse, and something that makes you think twice.”

For Guijarro, focusing on women has been integral theme and consideration in her artwork.

“Everything I do now, every work I create, I try to always think of women,” Guijarro said. “I don’t just advocate for women, I want to make sure we’re represented in positions of power.”

Guijarro also points to the artists selected for this project, who represent diverse and emerging voices.

“It’s important that we’re representing women and including younger, up-and-coming artists, and making sure women of color or women from all types of diverse backgrounds, are little by little, at the front of the creative community.”

All of the murals except for New York City’s will stay up through October, which is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Visitors are encouraged to visit the murals and share their photos on Instagram tagging @AllstatePurplePurse and using the hashtag #SafeWayOut.

Nitya Gupta

Nitya Gupta is a senior at the University of Michigan. She is majoring in English with a sub-concentration in creative writing and a minor in the environment. This summer she was a Corporate Relations Intern at Allstate. Nitya is passionate about learning from others and sharing their stories.