As of 2016, “Love Life” became the City of Oakland’s motto. In early June, Health Through Art, a program of the Health Human Resource Education Center, announced the campaign release of Eric Norberg’s winning artwork piece, “Love Life.” The art will appear on 25 billboards throughout the city of Oakland displaying the slogan “Love Life, Don’t Take Life”.
The first billboard, at 24th and Adeline, was dedicated and celebrated on the morning of Monday, June 12. Health Through Art is excited to announce its partnership with Donald Lacy and the Love Life Foundation, an organization that the winning artist has collaborated with previously, for the purpose of spreading this inspiring message via billboard and posters.
“Today was a great day,” wrote Lacy on Facebook. “Community came together to celebrate life and the unveiling of 25 billboards by artist Eric Norberg presented by Health and Human Resource Education Center.
“Big ups to Idris Hassan, Patanisha Williams and Dorothy King for your support and kind words and great food; Lynette Gibson McElhaney for your leadership – you are a true community leader; Davey D Cook for the coverage and putting the event out on Hard Knock Radio, the community Griot; Arnold Townsend for blessing us with your prayer and spirit; and the man who channels the spirits, the one and only Soul Nubian Rashad Pridgen and the Black Lives Masquerade.
“You, sir, are beyond talented. You are unique – magnificent, royalty. I am so thankful as we all are for your gifts. Anna Maria Luera, I love you dearly. Thank you for sharing this day and bringing my nephew Tommy, to all the friends, family and community who blessed this blessed event with your presence and to all the ancestors, who I know who are well pleased.”
Eric Norberg’s artist statement reads: “‘Love life, don’t take life’ is meant to encourage and respect life. Our world sees and hears of so much harm towards ourselves, our families and greater community. Non- and miscommunication leads to frustration and anger and revenge. Gun violence ends the possibility to understand. I want this art to help curb that negative outcome and say that life is good. Let color thrive within and share it with the world.”
The Love Life Foundation was founded by Donald Lacy to honor the work and vision of his daughter, LoEshe Lacy, a 16-year-old West Oakland student activist who was an innocent victim of a shooting on Oct. 20, 1997. To date, Mr. Lacy has received over 25 awards and accolades from many sectors of government, public health and entertainment for his ongoing work fulfilling his daughter’s anti-violence mission.
Eric Norberg, a Berkeley High School art teacher, created his “Love Life” piece as a dedication to his former student and mentee, Antonio Ramos. In a horribly fortuitous event in 2015, Ramos was slain while painting a mural dedicated to anti-violence. This is the second Health through Art campaign dedicated to nonviolence this year, the first being a t-shirt campaign entitled “Stop the Violence” by Oakland Tech Student, Ana Neifeld.
Ana Neifeld and Eric Norberg’s artwork was chosen along with eight others out of 182 entries for Health Through Art’s 11th Call for Art Competition. Winning artists include Sayra Reyes, Maria Crane, Kimlynh Engerbretson Chun, Gabriel Linares, Camille El Ghaoui (teen), Mira Gordon (teen) and Lena Shey. Winning HTA campaigns included t-shirts, AC Transit mini-bus billboards, posters and postcards, all promoting messages that strive to benefit individual and collective health.
Since 1989, Health Through Art’s mission has been to counteract negative media messages with art solicited from the community for change. HTA is a program of Health and Human Resource Education Center, sponsored by Alameda County Behavioral Health.