Art and Activism
I am known as an #ArtVocate - that is - an artist, activist and educator and I have often been asked to explain just what the artist as activist role means. The most obvious answer is typically "donate some artwork and the proceeds support a cause" but that isn't quite enough anymore, not for the causes, nor for the artists involved.
My friend and business strategy mentor Keith Spiro often talks about building communities around important concepts and organizations, I have done this as a participant in the AT trail conference held in Maine this past year and more recently by supporting the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention's Backpack program with my own marketing efforts directed toward amplifying the reality of kids going hungry - and in blunt language not fancy words. It's not food insecurity it is hungry children! Let's call it like it really is and let's take individual action to make a difference.
I have been teaching art classes at my local Grange Hall. I rent the space and my students and I enjoy the workspace, the natural lighting and the history of the old building. Their membership however is low and maintenance costs are ever increasing. One of the leaders of the Grange came to me and asked for help and we worked out something far better than just a donated piece of artwork
I asked my students if they would want to participate in an artshow of their own making but with a focus on raising funds for and awareness of The Grange.
Here's a bit of what my introductory letter looked like:
"Dear all: I know you are all familiar with the story of the West Bath Grange, and what a great thing it is for our community to have this building for classes, meetings, and other functions. They are very happy to have us renting the building for our classes and workshops, and made a suggestion to me last week that I want to share with you... we could have an art show. ... You pay for a table and can bring a couple of easels as well to display several pieces including prints if you have them. We advertise it as a benefit for the Grange. I think we could get a write up in local newspaper and each let our circle of friends know about it.....with he potential to be quite successful,... It would be up to all of us to promote the event as much as we can. I propose that we agree to donate a percentage of sales to the Grange, in addition to the entry fee. Please let me know your choice on this."
The group chose to move forward with the project. We each are responsible for reaching out to our own circle of clients, customers, patrons and friends. More than a dozen artists, working together with a fraternal organization to raise awareness - and yes - funds.
This is what Art Activism Looks Like.
A small original watercolor that will be included in the art sale: