Why art as activism?
Through out history, art, poetry, and iconography have been at the center of these movements, if not the catalyst for the movement itself. As a community, we are engaging with local creatives on how they use creativity and talent to further social causes and bring new perspectives to each issue; all the while, asking ourselves how we, creatives or not, can engage with these various topics in new ways.
We kicked off our new series, Art as Activism, with a panel discussion from 3 amazing local artists, activists, teachers, and space makers:
tyler galloway – professor at KCAI, graphic designer
Nika Renee- community organizer, poet
Anthony Marcos Rea– multidisciplinary artist, youth educator
The evening was inspiring and thought-provoking as moderator Garrett Brown, a local artist and teacher, asked curated questions to each speaker.
How would you define art as activism for you?
How does social media break down some of these walls of hierarchy in the art world?
Can the internet serve as an access for arts education?
How does art address the nasty things in our nation, such as the iconography of white supremacy?
The panelists bounced back and forth, engaging with one another on the questions and asking more questions amongst themselves.
There seemed to be a few resonating themes from our panelists that reappeared in their answers throughout the evening. Some consistent themes rang true throughout the night.
Art as activism is about community and empowering the people to move. It’s centered on the people and the places that it directly effects, and empowering others to create along the way. Art as activism does not stay in its silo of museums or galleries (although amazing art can be placed there and is important, as seen by the recent 30 Americans exhibit at The Nelson Atkins), but is taken to new and innovative avenues. Part of this process is also to decolonize art history and the ways we discuss art and even our feelings around heavy topics, such as white supremacy. Art helps provide literacy around how we feel and communicate, allowing others to say, “Oh, me too. That’s been my story.” In this way, art becomes a balm.
Renee discussed the medicinal metaphors for art; certain natural herbs can only be found in the areas where those diseases or illnesses naturally arise from due to the climate. In this way, you develop the medicine from the conditions you grow up in. In this way, artists are our medical balm for a lot of societal wounds we experience.
We capped off the evening asking the panelists, and hopefully ourselves, how we as creatives or non-creatives can engage with art as activism: hire artists for your events; incorporate art into your events and spaces you work; host artist talks and art nights in your home; get an artist to help design your sign for the next rally you attend. We will be finding ways as a community to engage with art as activism throughout the course of the series, so stay tuned for more details!