“When?” Artwork by Mell Sanroman

Creative Reaction Lab
4 min readApr 26, 2023

Before we continue with the article, please note that all of these artworks and descriptions were submitted by the artists before June 24th, back when the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade was a possibility instead of a certainty. As such, even though the tenses and wording might not line up at times, the threat we’re warned about is here.

“When?” by Mell Sanroman belongs to a series of fifteen postcards created by Artwork for Equity alums (learn more about our yearly campaign here), who worked with the purpose of both:

  1. Reflecting on the harm that Black and Latinx communities face in health & wellness spaces, as well as,
  2. Building awareness around the political erasure of underrepresented voices throughout our nation.

Mell Sanroman is an artist striving to create beautiful multimedia content that inspires, educates and motivates. Through the power of storytelling and unique art techniques, signature pieces have been prepared for communities of all kinds to enjoy. Illustration, oil paintings and digital art are some of the few but well known techniques preferred to create content covering different perspectives, stories and abstract feelings in her art. Her goal is to continue to interact with others and create expressive art that’ll positively impact people around the world.

True to her goal, when asked what inspired her to create “When?,” she started her answer by recalling the groundwork laid down by past activists. She answered that “[when she thinks] of the pro-life vs. pro choice debate, [she thinks] about the long and tiring fight a woman has had to have basic rights. It’s the 21st century, yet we’re still so adamant in controlling a woman’s body as if we’ve backtracked. So [the artist] thought it’d be appropriate to use an art style that’s just as old as these outdated ideas but still seen in this modern day.”

Pop art came to mind for her. She continues by writing about Andy Warhol’s first pop art paintings, “made in 1961, only 12 years before the Roe V. Wade court case. Pop art is used in ads for its bright and eye-catching colors. So eye catching it’s the only thing we can focus on. I wanted a man’s anger, disgust, and or indifference to ‘pop out’, since evidently it’s these emotions that seem to dictate today’s laws. Of course, a woman may be pro-choice, yet I doubt many women realize how much of an imbalance it would create if Roe V. Wade is overturned. Their emotions and opinion on this doesn’t have the power to cause results the way a man does, but it does give men the support they need to create inequality between them.”

Returning to her work, she added that she tried to “depict this by not drawing in their eyes and therefore not giving them as much value or emphasis as the men and their colorful feelings. While the voices of pro-lifers stand bright and very much modern, a woman and a girl sit in an old brown and blue color as if to indicate they’re outdated. [The artist] did this because in a sense I think women are constantly left in the past. We’re stuck in a cycle of reliving more and more trauma caused by misogyny and inequality that’s very prevalent in our society. A girl shouldn’t be seen as a potential mother, but as a girl with just as many aspirations as a boy. A girl will grow to be a woman with potential not because she has a uterus, but because she’s a person and has the right to participate in opportunities the same as a man. What makes a woman a woman doesn’t fully rely on when she starts her menstruation cycle, hence why the woman across from the child holds the same cat plushy as the child. Girls are forced to grow up for the sake of these outdated stereotypes and some won’t know their full potential because of these limits.”

Mell Sanroma had approached her work intentionally. She wrapped up her answer by writing how “[overall, she] wanted the clear overlapping between the past and present to shine in this piece. Despite the year, age, or society we live in, women have and still are suffering due to inequality and ignorance. It seems like all we can do is wonder when we will finally be heard. When will we finally be treated as a person? When?”

Free of cost (through this request form), you can get any of the fifteen postcards in this series — designed by fifteen incredible youth artists — mailed to you. Alternatively, you can also purchase them yourself from our store. To take action as a Redesigner for Justice, get involved in a writing campaign:

  • Why? Not only are writing campaigns great ways to mobilize your close social circles (friends, family), but they also help to raise awareness about the issues your community is facing.
  • How?Write a letter to your community leaders and officials demanding them to fight against racial and health inequities that you’ve experienced in your community and want to change!

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Creative Reaction Lab

At Creative Reaction Lab, we believe that Black and Latinx youth are integral to advancing racial equity and developing interventions for their communities.