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29 pictures of people refusing to accept the status quo.

Hey, hey! Ho, ho! This protest art puts on a show!

The world is too important, and life is too short, for us to accept that it cannot become better than it is.

And so many people won't. Over the past 100 years, protestors have fought for equal rights, education access, justice, and democracy, creating epic and emotional art in the service of making our world more fair.

These are a few of the sculptures, murals, and performances that caught our eye, moved our hearts, and made us think. Up first: a few classics.


1. In May 1913, women marched in New York's Suffrage Parade carrying the American flag and demanding the right to vote.

Image by Paul Thompson/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images.

2. In June 1917, these pro-prohibition British children took to the streets, demanding sweets.

Image by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images.

3. In the 1920s, American Prohibition-era protestors made their desires known with a giant barrel of beer.

Image by Henry Guttmann/Getty Images.

Many creative protests grow from political frustration.

4. In May 1989, pro-democracy protestors and art institute students built a 30-foot-tall statue dubbed "The Goddess of Democracy" and planted it in Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

Image by Toshio Sakai/Getty Images.

This photo was taken May 30. Just days later, the government tanks rolled in.

5. In San Sebastian, Spain, supporters of the pro-independence movement covered the field of Anoeta stadium in long cloths representing a ballot box.

Image by Ander Gillenea/Getty Images.

6. Ukraine is no stranger to political protests. This photo, filled with orange balloons and festoons (the colors of 2004's presidential candidate Viktor Yuschenko), was taken on the sixth day of protests after a disputed election.

Image by Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images.

Protests would continue for another two months.

7. For 79 days in fall 2014, Hong Kong's student-led protest movement, the "Umbrella Revolution," occupied busy city streets.

Image by Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images.

Why umbrellas? Because they are excellent for blocking pepper spray, the crowd-dispersing weapon-of-choice for military and police.

8. In the Umbrella Revolution's camps, art installations were a symbol of the creative expression sought by the pro-democracy protestors.

Image by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images.

9. In March 2016, thousands of protestors — including these extremely unflattering inflatable effigies — filled the streets of Sao Paulo.

Image by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images News.

They were calling for the resignation of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and the incarceration of former President Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva

Some protestors use art to call for urgent, transformative justice.

10. These Czech activists imprisoned themselves in Prague's Wenceslas Square to protest unlawful detainment at Guantanamo Bay.

Image by Michal Cizek/AFP/Getty Images.

The protestors bound their feet and hands, wore black sacks over their heads, and covered their ears with headphones. They called their protest "Two Cubic Meters of Human Rights," a reference to the size of their cages.

11. A protestor lies on sculptor Ai Weiwei's sunflower seeds installation in London's Tate Modern Museum after covering the piece in flyers demanding the artist's release from detention in China.

Image by Carl Court/Getty Images.

Each seed in Weiwei's installation is handmade from porcelain, then hand-painted. There were approximately 100 million made for this piece, which the Tate Modern described as questioning, "What does it mean to be an individual in today's society?"

12. After leaving Johannesburg's 2002 global summit on sustainable development in disgust, environmentalists pinned placards on a nearby art installation. Each one reads "betrayed" in a different language.

Image by Joav Lemmer/AFP/Getty Images.

13. In September 2010, Argentinian teachers marched through Buenos Aires with a mighty pencil while demanding increases in education funding.

Image by Juan Mabromata/AFP/Getty Images.

Other times protest art can transform tragedy into beauty.

14. This powerful light sculpture recognized seven female victims of political violence in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire.

Image by Sia Kambou/AFP/Getty Images.

Between 2010 and 2011, post-electoral violence cost the lives of over 3,000 people nationwide in Côte d'Ivoire.

15. After the only bridge linking Mitrovica's Albanian and Serbian neighborhoods was blocked with cement barricades, Albanian artists created one out of waterlily pads instead.

Image by Armand Nimani/AFP/Getty Images.

16. During 2012's Rio+20 conference on sustainability, an artist created these giant fish from discarded plastic bottles.

Image by Vanderlei Almeida/AFP/Getty Images.

The fish were hollow, allowing them to be illuminated from within at night. The sign nearby encourages passerby to "Recicle suas atitudes" ("Recycle your attitudes").

17. In May 2013, activists floated 12,000 candles on a river in Sclessin — one for every job that would be lost to closures at nearby steel plants.

Image by John Thys/AFP/Getty Images.

18. Located on the sidelines of Men's Fashion Week, Milan's "Wall of Dolls" showcased increasing violence against women.

Image by Olivier Morin/AFP/Getty Images.

19. To set an example for openness and tolerance, German artist Kurt Fleckenstein installed 175 prayer rugs in front of a church in Dresden in 2015.

Image by Arno Burgi/AFP/Getty Images.

20. As world leaders negotiated a climate deal in Paris, artist Olafur Eliasson brought pieces of Greenland's ice cap to melt in front of the Pantheon.

Image by Eric Feferberg/AFP/Getty Images.

Some protests demand a little theatricality.

21. At this 2003 protest in Avignon, French artists staged a "die in" to protest government welfare reform.

Image by Boris Horvat/AFP/Getty Images.

22. The face of Greenpeace's Save the Arctic campaign is a polar bear, so it's only natural they'd make a giant one (with moving limbs!) to celebrate their big victory against Arctic drilling.

Image by Niklas Halle'n/AFP/Getty Images.

The polar bear first appeared outside the U.K. headquarters of Royal Dutch Shell in September 2015 after the company announced it was suspending its preliminary drilling campaign in the Arctic. It later travelled to the UN climate talks in Paris. Fun fact: just out of frame in this photo? Actress and activist Emma Thompson.

23. In July 2013 in southern France, the women of Banyuls-sur-Mer put modesty on the line, as they strung garlands of bras across streets to protest a private marina project.

Image by Raymond Roig/AFP/Getty Images.

24. On the last day of the COP16 climate talks in Cancun, youth activists dramatized a rescue for the "drowning" negotiators with a giant life preserver and some much-needed optimism.

Image by John Quigley/SpectralQ.

Other protests use art and performance to transform pain and let people heal.

25. For her entire senior year at Columbia University, Emma Sulkowicz carried her mattress everywhere to protest the school's lack of action on rape allegations she brought against another student.

Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images.

She even brought the mattress to her graduation ceremony.

26. Shortly after indigenous activists posed for this photo, they finished digging a trench through this temporary dam, "freeing" the Xingu River and allowing it to resume its natural path.

Image by John Quigley/SpectralQ.

"Pare Belo Monte" translates to "Free Belo Monte." It refers to the site of Brazil's controversial Belo Monte Dam on the Xingu River. When completed, the dam will displace thousands of Indigenous people and flood their traditional villages.

27. With negotiations once again locked in a stalemate, hundreds of schoolchildren in Durban, South Africa, created this living lion to encourage world leaders at the COP17 climate talks to have courage to effect change.

Image by John Quigley/SpectralQ.

And sometimes artistic protests can look a little silly.

28. Whatever your position on Facebook, it's hard not to Like this float of its founder Mark Zuckerberg created for Viareggio's annual Carneval parade.

Image credit: Claudio Giovannini/AFP/Getty Images.

Viareggio's Carneval often lampoons cultural figures, particularly politicians, who dominated public discourse over the past year. Previous floats have featured Russian President Vladimir Putin and current U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

29. When Italian artist Graziano Cecchini poured thousands of colored balls down Rome's Spanish steps in 2008, he said each one "represented a lie told by politicians."

Image by Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images.

As folk singer and activist Phil Ochs' lyrics are often paraphrased: "In such ugly times, the only true protest is beauty."

We're proud these artists and agitators are part of our world. They make it — and us — so much better.

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
True

When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

Ronny Tertnes' "liquid sculptures" are otherworldly.

Human beings have sculpted artwork out of all kinds of materials throughout history, from clay to concrete to bronze. Some sculpt with water in the form of ice, but what if you could create sculptures with small drops of liquid?

Norwegian artist Ronny Tertnes does just that. His "liquid sculptures" look like something from another planet or another dimension, while at the same time are entirely recognizable as water droplets.

I mean, check this out:


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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
True

The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

The scarf, a simple accessory that some find an essential fashion piece. Both fashionable and function with the warmth they provide, scarves can be a valuable gift for any occasion or person. Here, we've selected our best selling scarves from our store. At Upworthy Market, when you purchase a product, you directly support the artisans who craft their own products, so with every purchase, you're doing good. These scarves are not only unique, but they are hand-made by local artisans and all under $30.

1. Fair Trade Woven Dark Gray Alpaca Blend Scarf

Celinda Jaco selects a cozy blend of Andean alpaca for this handsome men's scarf. Classic in style, it features fine stripes of white and black woven through the dark grey textile. Hand-tied fringe completes a distinguished design.

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Kayla Sullivan nails the reality of toddler tantrums in her mock news report.

Anyone who's ever had a 2-year-old knows that they can be … a lot. Adorable for sure, but … a lot. Toddlers are just starting to figure out that they have their own free will, but they have zero idea how to wield it or use it for good. They want what they want, when they want it—except when they change their mind and absolutely do not want what they just wanted—and they don't really have the emotional maturity or verbal acuity to adequately express any of these things without crying, whining or screaming.

There's a reason they're so darn cute.

For parents, handling a 2-year-old's 2-year-oldness can be a challenge. You can't rationalize with them. You know they're not being little toddler terrors on purpose. You know that they're just learning and that it's a stage and a phase that won't last forever, but when you're in it? Phew.

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