activism

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Design

A Set of Six Uniquely Textured Toys Engages Children in Processing Their Emotions

November 20, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

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)

 

 



Art Science

Our House is Flooding: a Semi-Submerged Life-Size Home Floats Down the River Thames

November 15, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Photographs by Guy Reece, courtesy of Extinction Rebellion

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)

 

 



Amazing Art

Project Reset Diverts Low-Level Offenders from Court with Art Workshops in New York City

November 7, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Photo courtesy of Project Reset

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.

Bob Thompson, “Judgement” (1963), Oil on canvas, 60 x 84in (© Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY

“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.

Titus Kaphar, “Shifting the Gaze” (2017), Oil on canvas, 83 × 103 1/4. Artist is represented by Jack Shainman Gallery

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.

 

 



Amazing

The World's First Bee Influencer Uses Social Media to Raise Funds for Lifesaving Pollinator Research

October 23, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

We can only imagine the job description: Science Foundation seeks expert visual effects designer to create robust social media presence for imaginary insect influencer. B., billed as the world’s first bee influencer, reports from Instagram-friendly locations like Montemartre in Paris and beachfront lounge chairs. Channelling trends among young female influencers, B. flaunts her figure, does yoga in pretty places, and hosts Story A.M.A’s, answering queries about her favorite musicians (Beethoven, the Bee Gees, Beeyonce). B’s captions are a blend of educational and quippy—a “photo” of her rowing is captioned “I have only one flaw… (LOL) I don’t know how to swim!”

Following in the footsteps of other scientific non-profits like the California Academy of Sciences and the Field Museum in Chicago, Fondation de France seeks to meet people where they’re at—which is, by and large, on social media. Humor, au courant language, and memes have become powerful tools to convey important messages about our past, present, and future world.

But whereas other institutions use strong voices on social channels to indirectly raise funds through increased museum attendance and perhaps larger sponsorships for exhibitions, the foundation is channeling income directly from their in-house influencer. Companies and organizations who feel that their brand identity aligns with B. can pay the rising-star insect to promote their products in the same way that a #vanlife influencer might pose with a brand of potato chips or shampoo. The fees that a company pays for exposure with B. go directly to Fondation de France’s BEE FUND, which the 50 year-old foundation created “to fund the actions considered as the most fundamental and urgent in the protection of all species of bees.”

You can follow along with B. on Instagram. If you or your company is interested in working with her as an influencer, find out more on the Fondation de France’s BEE FUND microsite.

 

 



Design

Take to the Streets with a Free Font Inspired by Climate Activist Greta Thunberg's Hand-Painted Protest Signs

October 21, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

A new font, free to all for download and use, is inspired by climate collapse activist Greta Thunberg. “Greta Grotesk” was created by Uno, a new company designing a solution to the disposable beverage cup pandemic. Drawing from the hand-painted protest signs that Thunberg has created for her worldwide efforts to create action on climate collapse, the font is in all capital letters. Above is an excerpt from Thunberg’s powerful speech she recently delivered at the U.N. You can download Greta Grotesk here. (via Kottke)

 

 

 



Photography

Stark Photographs by Benjamin Dimmitt Show the Ecological Damage of Saltwater Encroachment in Florida's Wetlands

October 8, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

All photographs © Benjamin Dimmitt, shared with permission of the artist

An Unflinching Look, a documentary photo series by Benjamin Dimmitt, is set in Florida and focuses its gaze on rising sea levels. Dimmitt has been photographing in the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge north of Tampa since 2004, after an initial visit more than 30 years ago.

“The dense palm hammocks and hardwood forests were festooned with ferns and orchids and the fresh water creeks were a clear azure,” Dimmitt tells Colossal. But, around 2011, saltwater began leaching into the creeks, due to rising sea levels and the state’s environmental decision-makers. Florida’s water commissioners allowed more fresh water to be drawn into large-scale inland developments and agricultural interests, leaving less for wetlands in the aquifers that feed these essential ecosystems.

“What had been verdant, semi-tropical forest is now mostly an open plain of grasses relieved by palms and dying hardwood trees,” Dimmitt explains. “In 2014, I began to photograph in the salt-damaged sawgrass savannas and spring creeks there as a way of reckoning with the ecosystem loss and of understanding what has become of my native Florida. I have narrowed my focus to a small, remote area that I know and love. My intention in bearing witness to this loss has been to portray the ruined landscape with respect, nuance and beauty.”

In order to create each photograph, Dimmitt canoes into the wetlands, stepping on to land to set up his tripod when possible, or shooting from his canoe if the water is too deep or land too soft. The selenium-toned gelatin silver prints are created with a medium format camera. Dimmitt grew up in a creative household, and his mother was an abstract painter. She gave the photographer his own camera at age 16, and her aesthetic continues to inform Dimmitt’s own practice to this day.

Because Dimmitt has been working in this region for so long, he is able to show the dramatic changes in the landscape over time, as salt-intolerant vegetation has been wiped out by the encroaching ocean water, as documented in the diptychs shown here. The artist tells Colossal that he has a very direct approach to photography, shooting from his eye and his heart. He sought to channel “a hammer in a velvet glove,” creating compelling images that would draw viewers into the larger issues at stake. As part of his artistic practice, Dimmitt also researched saltwater intrusion and spoke with scientists, activists, state water management officials, and locals to gain a full picture of the situation. For the photographer, the experience of documenting the changes in Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge “has been painful and cathartic for me, evoking grief, anger and feelings of loss and mortality.”

An Unflinching Look is part of a current exhibition, “This is Climate Change,” now on view at Southeast Museum of Photography through October 26, 2019. Explore more of the photographer’s portfolio on his website and Instagram. You can also learn more about the buyouts that state governments in regions impacted by climate change are offering people to leave their homes in an incisive article on Bloomberg, and explore “ghost forests” all along the Eastern seaboard in the New York Times.

 

 

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