Maxwell Emcays: Embodying Activism Through Art

Maxwell Emcays

Today’s society has bred activists of all colors and backgrounds who feel that it’s their job to fight for what’s right, regardless of whether this directly affects them or not. We see people protesting by way of social media, marches, speeches, and more. Maxwell Emcays decided to stray away from the norm and participate in activism through art instead.

Emcays, a Chicago based multidisciplinary artist, has created art pieces such as Demand Justice that brings awareness to the issues taking place in the Black community while calling for change. “I have an obligation to create art that changes circumstances and makes people think,” said Emcays. “I must create work that is a part of change in our community and within people that reflect and look the way I look.”

Emcays’s Demand Justice project features half of the faces of activists Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Despite being aware of other activists, Emcays chose to display these two iconic activists in this wooden artwork as they are well known for their work during the Civil Rights Movement and continue to influence activism in today’s world. A large reason for this work being presented in the way that it is is to display an issue that has plagued society in the past, currently, and more than likely will continue to affect us in the future. “We demanded justice when it was Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, we demand justice now, and we will always continue to demand justice,” said Emcays.

After the wrongful deaths of people in the Black community made headlines worldwide last year, many protests broke out all over the world. Some of them even took place in Chicago. When asked of his thoughts concerning this movement last summer, Emcays feels that there is still much to be addressed that has been overlooked. “I think what happened last year was an attempt at addressing the surface level of a much deeper conversation; essentially that’s the tip of the iceberg relative to the larger conversation, which is the rest of the iceberg,” said the activist.

Emcays’s work has been seen in Miami Art Basel, Chicago galleries, the DuSable Museum, private collections and highlighted on NBC’s “Making a Difference”. To view more of his creatvity, you can visit and subscribe to receive notifications about his artwork and popup exhibits.


By Cierra Lemott, Freshman, Columbia College Chicago

Instagram & Snapchat: @cece.kodak

Written by Cierra Lemott

I'm a professional procrastinator and my hobbies include sleeping, eating, and Netflix binging.

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