The artists behind the artwork.
By Taya Coates | Black & Magazine Contributing Writer
In an era of political uncertainty, a world health crisis, and racial tensions, small beams of hope shine the brightest. That Little Girl Was Me was the victory image of the presidential election weekend, dominating every social media platform. The piece depicts soon to be Vice President Kamala Harris walking with the shadow of young Ruby Bridges, a nod to Norman Rockwell’s iconic 1964 painting, The Problem We All Live With. Rockwell’s painting created space for a then-taboo conversation about issues the Black community faced. His impact continues today with this 2020 rendition that speaks to a similar socio-political climate. Although the composition of the artwork is straightforward, the piece illustrates all of the struggles presented in the personal story Harris told during the 2019 Democratic debate.
That Little Girl Was Me was created in Photoshop by San Francisco-based artist Bria Goeller. A recent grad of Emory University, Goeller has already founded her own company. Although she is the sole creator of the image, Goeller stressed the importance of directing focus towards the Black-owned company, Good Trubble, who commissioned her for the piece. Good Trubble is a political satire company founded by Gordon that aims “to evoke thought-provoking messages through catchy designs that empower, inspire symbolically, and bridge humor through conscience reflection,” according to their website. Goeller shares this same vision for using art to uplift, resulting in this fantastic collaboration.
Incredibly humble, the social media spotlight did not faze Goeller. In her statement, she says, “…platform or no platform, I have – personally and professionally – dedicated my life to amplifying the voices of communities that need it. I have made it my job as an artist to speak empathy and compassion through art. That will not change. And that will always be where I direct my energies”. Goeller has worked with many other organizations like Black Men Smile and the Homeless Outreach Awareness Program, truly an example of an amazing ally to several communities.
Viewers see the future and the past when they look at That Little Girl Was Me. This work beautifully honors Bridges’ influence while celebrating the presidential win, not only a piece of art but a mark of progress. Only ten years apart in age, Bridges and Harris are two of the most pivotal Black female figures in this country’s history. Both fighting the same system in different ways, Bridges, and Harris gracefully have overcome the struggles they faced as Black women. Their accomplishments have laid the foundation for greater opportunity in every Black girl’s future. The image acknowledges just how far Black women have come in a mere 60 years and why Harris’ vice-presidential win is a sublime moment for the Black community. The cherry on top for the weekend was Bridges herself sharing she was honored by the artwork and reposting the picture to her own Instagram.
Unfortunately, due to social media’s nature, the image was often shared without credit to Goeller or Good Trubble. When speaking with Goeller about proper artist credit on social media, she responded, “I’ll just say that credit isn’t the most important thing here. It’s the effect it has on people. I do think people need to credit the original artists, but I’m not personally offended and have all the attention I need. If anything, it prevents Good Trubble from profiting – which is a shame because they’re the ones who people should support”.
Those that were directed to Good Trubble have indeed supported the duo. Thousands of comments online begged for prints to be released and shared testimonies of how the artwork moved them. Some spoke of how it brought them to tears and mothers spoke of how empowering it was for their daughters. One Instagram user @hageallyson said, “I shared this piece with my 4th graders on Monday… We listened to the NPR interview with Ruby Bridges while looking at Norman Rockwell’s iconic artwork. We then transitioned to your work…Thank you for your collaborative work, Bria. It was the perfect piece to segue the discussion around these two remarkable women”. The outpour of support and admiration for this work of art symbolizes a new era of hope for not only the Black community, but all women, and all allies.
Prints and T-shirts are available for purchase here.