Amnesty International teamed up with the world’s leading street art festival NUART and South African street artist Ricky Lee Gordon in the Norwegian city of Stavanger to celebrate the bravery of human rights activists around the world. 

About the Project

Adding his voice to Amnesty International’s ‘Brave’ campaign, Ricky Lee Gordon created a mural of Sakris Kupila, a human rights defender from Finland who has fought tirelessly for transgender rights in the face of harassment and intimidation. The campaign aims to raise awareness of human rights defenders, and to explore the power of art to push boundaries and stimulate debate.

Ricky Lee Gordon said: “I’m proud to be standing with human rights defenders around the world who are under attack for challenging the status quo. Expressing your ideas in a public space is always a risk, but that risk is amplified for people like Sakris whose fight to defend human rights makes them a target of hate. I wanted my piece to show who Sakris really is, and designed it as a celebration of someone who is brave enough to stand up for what is right at great personal cost.”

Sakris Kupila is advocating to change the law on gender recognition in Finland. It currently requires that a person should be over 18 years of age, have a psychiatric diagnosis and be sterilized or otherwise sterile. He said: “Amnesty’s ‘Brave’ campaign asks us all to find the spark of courage inside to fight for what is right. NUART has given us an amazing platform to spread the word and ask more people to stand with the brave, to demand their recognition and protection and work together towards a fairer society.”

NUART founder Martyn Reed said: “We’ve had a long a positive relationship with the regional Amnesty office over the years. Working on a global campaign that relates to transgender rights in a Scandinavian country and which uses the power of street art to effect positive social change, is absolutely the type of project we like to get behind and support.”

On Saturday 2 September NUART hosted a panel discussion with Amnesty International, local politician Annamaria Gutierrez, Ricky Lee Gordon and Sakris Kupila.

About the Artist

Ricky is a self-taught artist born in Johannesburg South Africa in 1984. He moved to LA in 2016 to study classical painting. He is well known for his large-scale murals that can be seen in cities all over the world, from New York to Istanbul and Madagascar to Kathmandu.

Ricky has been inspired by his experiences in meditation and Buddhist Dharma (law of nature). Thus, his paintings explore the nature of non-duality and interconnectedness focusing on bringing to light relevant social issues and universal truths. His intention with his murals is to create artwork that has a connection to the people and place in which he is painting.

Sometimes his work is abstract and deconstructed and sometimes straight forward and didactic; collaging two images together adding bold poetic text to create a union between the dreamlike stories.

His achievements in public art have made it on CNN, Mail & Guardian’s ‘200 young people in SA who make a difference’, Winner of the International Art and healing network award for 2011 and National Geographic’s list of ‘11 street art greats’ alongside the likes of Banksy.

About NUART Festival

Nuart is an international contemporary street and urban art festival, held annually in Stavanger, Norway since 2001. It is widely considered the world’s leading celebration of Street Art among its peers.

Nuart Festival provides an annual platform for national and international artists who operate outside of the traditional art establishment. From the first week of September an invited international team of street artists leave their mark on the city’s walls, both indoor and out, creating one of Europe’s most dynamic and constantly evolving public art events.

The event aims to stimulate debate by challenging entrenched notions of what art is, and more importantly, what it can be. It also aims to explore and present new movements and works with artists operating across the spectrum of ‘Street Art’. The festival provides an internationally relevant, challenging and dynamic environment for artists, students, gallery goers and public alike; an event that aims to reflect the culture as well as participate in helping define it.

The artists who attend the festival are among the most acclaimed and progressive public art practitioners in the world. Without the usual restraints of curatorial and corporate preferences, the event consistently brings out the best in its invited guests.

About Amnesty International

Amnesty International is a global movement of more than 7 million people who take injustice personally. It is independent of any political ideology, economic interest or religion. No government is beyond scrutiny. No situation is beyond hope.

Through detailed research and determined campaigning, the organization helps fight abuses of human rights worldwide. It dedicates its efforts to bring torturers to justice, change oppressive laws and free people jailed just for voicing their opinion.

Images by Giulia Blocal ( unless otherwise noted.

Ricky Lee Gordon: website | twitter | instagram
NUART: website | facebook | instagram
Amnesty International: website | facebook

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