Bekah Worley: Abolishing Through Art

Sometimes you feel like trash but you’re not trash. You’re gonna make it. Take care of each other. Try-try-try-try.

The messages in artist Bekah Worley’s art are as explicit as they are supportive. And while they can apply to a variety of viewers in a variety of situations, the mantras start with a specific audience. “Yeah, those are for me,” says Worley. “I mean, they’re also for everyone, but unless it’s a specific commission or something, the stuff that shows up in my work is coming from my own experience and what I’m dealing with at the moment. Notes to self, sort of.”  

Along with text, vibrant color plays also plays an essential part of Worley’s stand-out art. She only made the switch from watercolors and gouache to fluid acrylics in 2020, but the approach opened up a style and feel that took her work in a bolder and more beautiful direction. And even though her print style pieces can be instantly recognizable from the fluid pinks, oranges and greens, her cheekiness is also apparent in simple black and white illustrations like her ‘socks’ sticker.     

Worley also recently took up another message, this one for the larger public: Abolish the Cops. The bright three-color design features her flowing shapes, two hands with a blooming flower and the words on the leaves. 

“I started coming to an understanding of my own privilege and responsibility, which is something I’ll probably always be unwinding,” she says. “And now I can see that policing is just another system of oppression—it feels like every day there’s a new, horrifying example, and it’s really overwhelming.  I made that design when I was feeling pretty angry and powerless and, honestly, struggling with the fact that as a white woman I’ve benefited from the privileges of white supremacy; I’m complicit.”

“After I made the design, a couple folks asked about T-shirts, and I realized we could maybe raise a little money for the local organization Communities United Against Police Brutality,” she says. The artistic approach to the radical message moved more T-shirts than Worley expected. “I didn’t think they’d be as popular as they were.”

The shirts are available online through Worley’s store, but there are plenty of chances to catch her work in person, from some pieces at Curiosity home decor in Northeast Minneapolis to occasional pop-ups at Able Seedhouse + Brewery.  

Fun Fact: Worley’s art also graces the cover of Warcake’s last album, read up on the band in our last issue! 

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