Brooklyn School of Magic by Elizabeth Montague
Brooklyn School of Magic

Artist Statement

This piece was inspired by a combination of the recent casting of a black Hermione Granger in the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and the all black cast in the film adaptation of the musical The Wiz Live!. With this in the back of my mind, I saw a photograph on Tumblr of a young girl on a subway train and thought: What if Brooklyn had a school for magic? And what if instead of the Hogwarts Express there was the Brooklyn School of Magical Transit? This idea continued to develop as I thought about what types of magical creatures would inhabit this world and their appearances and mannerisms. Maybe women and girls aren’t witches at all but fairies, or perhaps they can choose to be whatever they want to be. By creating this piece I hope to project the idea that fictional characters are not limited to how producers cast them or even to how authors conceptualize them, because the real tragedy for young black girls is growing up in a world with imaginary characters that only reflect the dominant race.

Artist Process

Brooklyn School of Magic Work in Progress by Elizabeth Montague
Brooklyn School of Magic, Work in Progress

My goal as an artist is to create visually challenging work to explain complex social concepts and issues. By using digital illustration to break down the barriers of literacy and language, a system is created to make knowledge more inclusive for more minds to offer solutions, perspectives and critical thought about current issues. Tough issues are on the horizon, such as the environmental crisis, extreme wealth and poverty in America and abroad, the Syrian refugee crisis, the systematic incarceration of black men in America and overall exclusion of non-white males from “the system,” ISIS, democracies vs. oligarchies, and women’s rights. We need as many minds and perspectives on these issues as possible, as well as other digital artists to increase accessibility to those necessary conversations. The art department here at the University of Richmond is very small, and I am the lone graphic designer in the department (sadly there are no graphic design professors yet). The upside is that I am given freedom to create my own projects and collaborate with professors outside of the art department. I believe an interdisciplinary approach to art is necessary because there is so much to learn from other disciplines. My art is a form of communication, and what’s the point in communicating if you’re not saying anything that matters? – Elizabeth Montague


My name is Elizabeth (Liz) Montague. I’m a college student currently attending the University of Richmond, majoring in Visual Arts and Media Practice with a concentration in graphic design. I’m a graphic designer and staff artist for University of Richmond’s Forum Magazine as well as a freelance artist for the University of Richmond Magazine and communications department. I am also a D1 student-athlete on the University of Richmond Women’s Track and Field team. My portfolio can be found here.