A recent University of Tampa graduate, activist artist Nneka Jones masterfully blends embroidery thread to stitch stunning portraits of young girls, women, and the occasional celebrity. Sometimes donning a fringed shirt that cascades from the canvas, the subjects wear somber faces and stare forward through the gaps of a bullseye or scope, symbols that serve a larger purpose.
By obscuring and literally marking the faces with targets, the Trinidadian artist focuses on “the social and political issues affecting Caribbean society.” Jones visualizes the ways young girls of color, in particular, frequently experience the destructive effects of human trafficking and sexual abuse. “Through each series and their captivating imagery and symbolism, I hope that this is a call to action for everyone to become aware of sex trafficking and stand up against it,” she writes. “I believe that contemporary artists, particularly those that consider themselves ‘activist artists,’ are important today for starting a conversation without using any words.”
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Pedro Reyes is showing how an object used for harm can be molded into one that promotes life in a project titled “Palas por Pistolas.” Reyes, who originally is from Mexico City, collected 1,527 guns from the Culiacán area in Mexico. The project offered those who gave up their weapons, which were steamrolled publicly and melted, an exchange for a coupon that allowed them to buy electronics and appliances. Reyes used materials from the weapons to create shovels that were then used for planting trees. Since its completion, public schools and art institutions—from the Vancouver Art Gallery to the San Francisco Art Institute to the Maison Rouge in Paris—have received the shovels for community members to use. We have previously marveled at Reyes’ projects involving guns turned into instruments. Find more of Reyes’s work here. (via Intelligent Living)
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2020, with its pleasing, almost futuristic symmetry, marks a timeframe to which many visioning plans drafted in the past 20 years were tied. This coming year will show whether the cultural, sustainability, and diversity plans from cities, companies, and organizations around the world will be achieved on schedule. One institution has recently declared a 2020 plan that’s a bold step toward equity and inclusion in the canon-making field of art museum collecting.
The Baltimore Museum of Art announced that in the coming year, all new acquisitions will be works by female-identifying artists. Shown here are several new acquisitions, many of which will be on display in 2020; all 22 exhibitions planned for the coming year are centered on female artists.
According to a statement from the Museum, the BMA is “working to shift the scales within its collections, acknowledging that women artists are still underrepresented in the museum field and within museum collections. We hope this will serve as a model and a first step towards better representation within our field.”
Of the 95,000 works in the BMA’s permanent collection of 19th-century, modern, and contemporary art, only 3,800 were created by women. Accounting for multiple pieces by the same artist, the number of female artists represented tallies 1,500.
“You don’t just purchase one painting by a female artist of color and hang it on the wall next to a painting by Mark Rothko. To rectify centuries of imbalance, you have to do something radical,” Museum director Christopher Bedford said in an interview with the Baltimore Sun.
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A set of six figurines made from wood and silicone are designed to help children process difficult memories and emotions. Created Israeli designer Yaara Nusboim, the “Alma” dolls correlate to different feelings: fear, pain, emptiness, love, anger and safety. The unique textures and colors of fuschia spikes, turquoise shards, and pink petals prompt children to engage with the dolls in different ways.
Nusboim envisions the dolls being used as part of play therapy, wherein a therapist can observe their young patient’s behaviors and choices with the toys to help unpack underlying psychological or emotional concerns. “Playing with a toy provides a safe psychological distance from the child’s private problems and allows them to experience thoughts and emotions in a way that’s suitable for their development,” the designer explained to Dezeen.
Take a peek into the design process in the video below, and explore more of Nusboim’s socially conscious designs on her website. (via Dezeen)
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Over the weekend of November 10, activist group Extinction Rebellion launched a dramatic installation in London’s River Thames. “Our House is Flooding” was comprised of a life-size brick house, complete with flood lights, a security camera, and a satellite dish, sunken into the British capital’s major waterway.
“Sadly, climate-change is something that affects every one of us. We want to respectfully raise awareness of the severity of the impending human-made disaster,” said Katey Burak and Rob Higgs, who co-built the house. “We wanted to make something that people can visually connect to, whilst leaning on the government and the experts to make the changes that need to be made. Until they make the big legal and financial changes, it’s very hard for people like me or you to make significant changes to protect ourselves and the world around us.”
The impact of climate change on the oceans is inextricably linked to the safety and health of land-bound humans and animals as well. In another chilling example of the immediate effects of climate change and rising sea levels, the world’s foremost art event, the Venice Biennale, was shut down just a few days after “Our House is Flooding”, due to damaging sea surges and floods in the fragile Italian city.
Keep up with Extinction Rebellion’s actions that fight for ecological and social justice on Instagram and Twitter, and find ways to get involved on the organization’s global website. (via Hyperallergic)
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A unique program in New York City created by the Center for Court Innovation offers people who have committed a low-level crime like trespassing or criminal mischief the opportunity to completely divert their case out of the traditional court system. Instead, participants in the Project Reset initiative meet in group settings with teaching artists to share a dialogue about works of art over a three-hour course. Upon successful completion of the program, the case is declined by the local district attorney’s office, the arrest record is sealed, and the individual never sets foot in a court room.
The program was piloted about six years ago at Gavin Brown’s gallery in Manhattan; artists Derek Fordjour and Shaun Leonardo were involved in developing and leading the curriculum. Currently, Project Reset operates in partnership with the New Museum in Manhattan and the Brooklyn Museum. At the latter, the focus is on two paintings: Titus Kaphar’s “Shifting the Gaze” and “Judgement” by Bob Thompson.
In a conversation with Colossal, Criminal Justice Director Adam Mansky explains that they have seen incredible success with the program. Initially limited to first-time offenders ages sixteen to seventeen, Project Reset has incrementally expanded over the years. It now serves a wider age range, as well as people who have had previous encounters with the court system.
“What we’ve observed is that some of the older participants get even more out of it,” Mansky tells Colossal. “There is a conceptual and performance aspect to participating in the course,” he explains, prompting reflection and active engagement on issues like systems of power and social perceptions.
“Conceptually, we do things that allow people to use arts to reflect on their behavior and the injustices of the system, that it can be a constructive experience for people,” says Mansky. Project Reset is effective because it matches the systemization of traditional court processes, while also centering the individual’s circumstances and potential for improvement and change for the future, rather than punishment for the past.
Since 2015, more than 1,750 people have participated in the program, and avoided a criminal record. The program has a 98% completion rate, with 96% of participants recommending it to others and a significant decrease in recidivism one year later. Project Reset also offers expediency: the 3-hour program helps cases, on average, be resolved 186 days sooner than traditional prosecution.
In addition to Project Reset, the Center for Court Innovation engages in a wide array of participatory and creative programming. The organization offers youth photography workshops, as well “a tremendous amount of place-making work”, Mansky explains. Much of their programming incorporates design and urban planning, as well as creative technology.
Find out more about the Center for Court Innovation on their website. The organization is also hiring for dozens of roles if you’re interested in getting involved professionally. You can also keep up with the non-profit and learn more about their impact on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
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