Art is Activism: Getting Involved
Activism is defined as the policy or action of using campaigning to bring about political or social change. The current climate of our country calls for activism as a result of the continued unjust treatment of those oppressed and degraded in the Black community. Feelings of anxiety, fear, frustration, and confusion may follow as a result of these injustices. Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design is a safe space, strengthened by diversity and expression. This moment in history is a call to action and we have the power to affect change. We have compiled a handful of resources in which you can use to help start that change.
There is vast importance in teaching history. Education and research are crucial in learning from the mistakes of others, as to not repeat the behaviors of the past. History helps us understand how society can change and develop. Understanding the reason why there is a demand for justice for people like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Sean Reed, Ahmaud Arbery and the many other citizens who face adversity is the first step in positive change. Do thorough and investigative research to educate yourself. “13TH” and “American Son” are available on Netflix, as well as the docu-series “When They See Us”, all of which bring light to historical racial inequities and injustices within the police system dating back centuries. The RMCAD Library lists video resources and a guide with books, podcasts, and articles to help with educational research below:
Mental Health Resources
Listening to the stories of those around you and having open conversations can help expand your understanding, so check in with your peers and join RMCAD’s Diversity Alliance. Prioritizing diversity and equity creates an environment that respects and values individual differences along varying dimensions. The Diversity Alliance is committed to being a safe space for student inclusion. They meet every Monday.
You must also take care of yourself in order to be able to serve and assist others. RMCAD’s Health + Wellness Center offers group therapy sessions offered weekly on Wednesdays from 11:15 a.m. – 12:45 p.m., as well as individual appointments. These sessions aim to create a safe place for shared expression, empathy, and encouragement.
You’ve undoubtedly seen the outpouring of artistic expression as a result of these events. Whether it’s here in Denver locally, or national, artists have been demonstrating solidarity and paying homage to the profound moment in time we are all a witness to the best way they know how- through their art. We sat down with Jovan Brock, RMCAD Fine Arts student, military veteran, and performance artist in Episode 10 of Remotely Creative- Yeah, I Got Tear Gassed. Jovan shared in an open and honest conversation the power of his performance pieces, and the importance of getting involved. Sharing artwork can be a way to safely and comfortably express yourself. It is a voice that can be used to stand united against injustice, brutality, violence, prejudice, and racism. We encourage artists to use their platforms to speak up and stand by what’s right. These artists were interviewed about the art they created shedding light on the travesties their communities have endured.
Diversity builds economic vitality, uplifts communities, and promotes productivity and resilience. A great way to participate in this form of activism is to support minority-owned businesses. Denver as a community is digging deep to provide support with an expansive list of local black-owned businesses. The list consists of 275+ non-profits, arts, entertainment, creative services businesses, and more. Influencers like Zoe Amira are even offering alternative solutions to support black artists, even if funds are tight. She put together an hour-long Youtube video featuring music, poetry, and art from black creatives. The most important thing about this video, however, is the ads. Zoe is donating 100% of the ad revenue gained from the video to a selection of organizations supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. Art helps influence communities, broaden minds, and facilitate change in a creative way, which is why artistic resources are invaluable. In the words of Angie Thomas, “Art is activism.”
There are additional ways to constructively get involved, as activism comes in many forms. Consider making a donation, but make sure you’re donating effectively. Donate to legal funds, neighborhood relief efforts, local aid-funds, or any legitimate national and local fund that resonates with you. Get in contact with state representatives. Sign a petition demanding justice and accountability for those who have been unfairly treated. Ensure that you’re registered to vote, so that come election time, proper action can be taken by elected officials.
Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design’s mission has always been to prepare learners to be forces of change in their industries, communities, and the world. We stand with you. One of our values is the importance of taking risks and being adaptable to change. The reward outweighs the risk associated with a nation where change is on the horizon. In the words of Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”