National News

Baltimore Artist Re-Imagines Controversial H&M Ad In Viral Artwork

Posted January 18, 2018 10:41 a.m. EST

— A Baltimore artist and Morgan State University graduate has re-envisioned a controversial H&M ad for kids, which featured a black child wearing a hoodie with the phrase, "coolest monkey in the jungle."

"The term 'monkey' has been used to degrade people of color for a long time now. And I just think that it's been used to make us feel unequal to other races. So I did feel some sort of way when I saw it," Kyle Yearwood told WJZ.

H&M pulled the design after massive outrage and claims of racism. It even sparked protesters to trash several H&M stores in South Africa.

But it inspired artists like Yearwood to change the conversation. His version of the ad has been viewed on Instagram nearly 200,000 times.

Fixed it. @hm Inspired by @mrchrisclassic Artwork by @kyle.yearwood

A post shared by Kow (@kyle.yearwood) on Jan 8, 2018 at 10:38am PST

Celebrities like Snoop Dogg and Jamie Foxx have shared Kyle's artwork on their millions of Instagram followers.

"My artwork isn't usually politically charged or made to be controversial, but it's always about shifting the narrative from negative to positive," Yearwood said.

Using Photoshop and his imagination, Yearwood's other engaging artwork captures what he calls "magic" in Baltimore's black community.

Another one of his works spread worldwide in December, titled, "I heard the black girls in Baltimore can fly."

I heard the Black girls in Baltimore can fly. Art by @kyle.yearwood

A post shared by Kow (@kyle.yearwood) on Nov 29, 2017 at 8:27am PST

"I just really want to promote how powerful, how magical we truly are. And just shine a light on all people," he said.

Yearwood is a single artist flipping the script and finding the magic in everyday life.

He is also a Light City grant recipient. His work will be on display in Darley Park during the celebration in April.