Time magazine has unveiled its list of the 100 most influential people of 2020, which recognizes individuals who are shaping the world by “harnessing the power of influence to forge genuine progress.” This year, artists Patrisse Cullors, Julie Mehretu, and Tourmaline have made the list alongside Megan Thee Stallion, Anthony Fauci, and Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris.
As in previous years, Time invited luminaries who made last year’s list to pen essays honoring the impact of the 2020 recipients. Artist and activist Patrisse Cullors graced one of the eight Time 100 covers alongside fellow founders of the Black Lives Matter movement Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi. The three, who are leading demonstrations against anti-Black racism and police violence, were honored in an essay by Sybrina Fulton, who founded the Trayvon Martin Foundation in the wake of her son Trayvon’s killing. “I’m glad to see there are more young people getting involved, more nationalities, more races,” Fulton wrote, adding that the protests “are now a rainbow of people from all walks of life, in different countries, joining and saying, “Black lives do matter.”
Ethiopian-born, New York–based painter Julie Mehretu, one of the most prominent living artists, was recognized by architect David Adjaye. “Julie Mehretu’s work—painting abstract three-dimensional landscapes that represent our often chaotic socio-political climate—is profoundly meaningful in the way that it frames stories and places,” he wrote. “She creates her own language that serves as a portal to a place where expressionism collapses time, only to reveal our relationship to space.”
The accomplishments of filmmaker and activist Tourmaline was recognized in an essay by Janet Mock, a writer, director, and producer, who first met Tourmaline in 2012 through the latter’s Tumblr “The Spirit Was …” The page centered BIPOC folks who had been left out of mainstream LGBQT history through digitized archival materials like newspaper clippings and little-seen photographs of trans icons Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. Last year, artist Kiyan Williams profiled Tourmaline for the 2019 edition of ARTnews’s “Deciders” list.
“Tourmaline gave us evidence of our lineage, and in a culture where histories of marginalized people—particularly Black trans and queer people—aren’t preserved in mainstream storytelling,” Mock wrote. “Tourmaline is a force showing us to ourselves, proving to anyone paying attention that trans people have always been here.”