Former professional baseball player Micah Johnson making art, and a difference

Async Art celebrated another record-breaking sale of digital NFT (non-fungible token) artwork earlier in November (2020), this time from retired baseball player Micah Johnson. “ˈsä-v(ə-)rən-tē” (pronounced “sovereignty”), seeks to empower two African-American kids who had a rough start in life with Bitcoin donations on their respective birthdays embedded within the artwork.

The bidding for “ˈsä-v(ə-)rən-tē” kicked off at $70K and was eventually sold for more than $120,000 to a private collector.

In continuation of his dream focused works intended to inspire the black youth of our world, the former MLB athlete (Dodgers, White Sox, Braves)turned artist, selected two children who have experienced great tragedy in their lives (Jacque 8, Rayden 7) as the subject matter of the groundbreaking blockchain art installment, a programmable digital artwork depicting the two youths standing in a field before an astronaut suit and a door. The work, a time sensitive programmable photograph features two real subjects in a scene with an astronaut suit on one side of the door and the boys on the other.

For the next 11 years, the door that is standing between the boys and their “dreams” will open more each year [at the prompt of funds donated using the Async Apple TV app until they are face to face with their dream archetype on their 18th birthday.

Micah Johnson’s inspiration

Johnson’s use of the astronaut in his works symbolically represents the dreams children aspire to. It also stems from overhearing his then 4-year-old nephew ask his mother, “Can astronauts be Black?”

The mission of this work started by simply wanting to empower the two youths by letting them see themselves in high-art, but quickly turned into an important use-case for Bitcoin in the black community.

Micah Johnson “ˈsä-v(ə-)rən-tē”

“When asked what I want to be when I grow up, I answered without hesitation, a baseball player,” says Micah Johnson. “Because where I’m from, we don’t have a ‘Plan B’, all we have is ‘Plan A.’ As an artist, I feel a responsibility to use my platform to support and inspire our youth to achieve their dreams. No one should be told to have a ‘Plan B.’”

The partnership with Async Art, the world’s first programmable art platform which allows anyone to easily interact with and display their artwork through supported smart TVs, enables viewers around the globe to donate Bitcoin to directly impact their lives by for the subjects in the photograph.

The piece itself holds several symbolic references with the changes of its Layers.

The door represents opportunities, and it starts off closed and out of reach in the year 2020. Over the next 11 years the door will become more visible. The passage of time is denoted by the automatic Day/Night changes within the piece each day, and the astronaut’s secret identity can be revealed only by the new owner when the piece sells. The most powerful change is when the boys completely disappear from the photograph when they turn 18, signaling that they have walked through the door of opportunity. The piece is a symbolic act of sovereignty, an independent solution to an ongoing national conversation about equity, diversity, and inclusion

Every year on the boys’ birthdays, the artwork is programmed to display a QR code that links to a Bitcoin wallet. A global audience can now celebrate Jacque and Rayden’s birthdays on November 6th and August 10th, as well as donate in confidence that 100% of the wallet will be turned over to the boys.

With every year’s donation, the door between the kids and the astronaut will slowly open, signaling that they are one step closer to achieving their dreams. Upon turning eighteen, the children will permanently disappear from the digital artwork-signaling that they have walked through this “door of opportunity.” This will mark the end of a decade-long journey with #BirthdayBitcoin.

Additionally,ˈ sä-v(ə-)rən-tē will be featured as public art space on Standard Vision billboard at the Courtyard Marriott 901 W. Olympic Blvd.–Los Angeles, CA from December 7th through January 10th.

Micah Johnson at work

Micah Johnson artist

Micah Johnson is a self-taught figurative artist who uses strong gestural lines combined with loose brush strokes to create dramatic portraits primarily featuring African-American children. He sees art as an opportunity to inspire a broader demographic around the subjects of racial equality, chasing your dreams without limitations, and the empowerment of young people.

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