What a week it's been.
Even though last week’s newsletter went out just after the news of Justice Ginsbug’s passing, I felt I needed the week to process the loss and reflect on her impact on our country, which was profound. RBG was a gracious warrior who lived her purpose until her last breath. My favorite story about her was when she went to argue her first case in front of the Supreme Court. There she stood, a diminutive figure in the grandiosity of the courtroom, encircled by nine stately (all male) justices. The nerves amped up with the “Oyez, Oyez” call to order. And then RBD reframed the situation to “this is my chance to educate them.” And educate them she did.
Her life embodied a type of activism and her passing has ignited a fire. We’re all called to use our voices and fight injustices and we all have our own lane and way to do this. One colleague of mine, on hearing the news, got out her watercolors and pens and began sketching RBG’s famous lace collars. She posted them to Instagram the evening of RBG’s passing. There was such an overwhelming response that she is now selling them to raise money for the RBG Legal Scholar Fund at Columbia University. I’ve seen tributes on sweatshirts, chalked on sidewalks, posters and memes. Her life and her passing has inspired a creativity unleashed so fervently that I began thinking about how artists are processing 2020 and all its events. With the cacophony of political posturing and sound bites buzzing constantly, the visual arts now stand out above all the noise.
Art for art’s sake is wonderful. Art for a greater purpose inspires for generations. As I was researching the history of activist art I read how FDR’s New Deal paid artists for their art. Yes, that’s right. The Federal government, in the first four months of 1934, hired 3,749 artists (including Mark Rothko) and produced 15,663 paintings, murals, prints, crafts and sculptures for government buildings around the country. It didn’t try to retrain them and ‘skill them up’ for a job that would crush their souls. The federal government paid them for their talents and honored their work by displaying them in government buildings.
We need art now more than ever and creativity will help us find our way forward, give us a way to process the current chaos in our world, document this moment in time and call for change. I can’t help but think about what creative genius this tumultuous year will produce.
However you use your creativity, now’s the time to unleash it and let it speak loudly.
Until next week,
- The ways in which nationally-recognized cartoonists celebrated the impact of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
- A series of public art installations from New York artists and advocacy groups aim to raise awareness about racial inequalities and experiences with COVID-19
- Activists to explain “How Fashion Drives Change”
- A clock in NYC presents the critical window for action to prevent the effects of global warming from becoming irreversible.
- A California art museum will be a polling place this fall, featuring an exhibit focused on both politics and empathy
- Sarah Cameron Sunde’s “36.5 / A Durational Performance with the Sea” exhibit features the artist’ real time performances in oceans worldwide, which raise awareness of the impacts of climate change
- A group of textile artists started the Textile Artist Fundraiser to use their pieces as a fundraising tool for community organizations
- A new set of emojis appropriate for the dumpster fire that 2020 is has just been released
Things to Do Around the World
- Artists Mark Mothersbaugh and Beatie Wolfe created the Postcards for Democracy project to support the USPS and promote voting access- to submit your postcard to join their gallery, click here
- These TED Talks on “Powerful Art Activism” highlight the many forms of art used to promote social justice, including public art installations, music, and poetry
- PBS’ KQED Art School gives 5 suggestions for 6-12th graders to make their own art with a message for change