social justice

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Photography

Dozens of Photographs Connect Racial Justice and the Symbolism of Flowers in an Exhibition by The Earth Issue

March 12, 2021

Grace Ebert

Denisse Ariana Pérez (previously), “Boys and Water” (2019). All images courtesy of the artists/The Earth Issue, shared with permission

An online exhibition by The Earth Issue, an artist collective interested in the intersection of environmental activism and social justice, centers on the symbolic power and precarious nature of the flower. Considered both a sign of love and an offering to make amends, plants in bloom are often sites of cultural contradiction, a theme that runs through the dozens of photographs in Strange Flowers—the show is titled in reference to Billie Holiday’s anti-lynching protest anthem “Strange Fruit.”

“Beauty felled in its prime. Taken without consent, their stems ripped from the earth, their connection to life severed, petals pulled and crushed underfoot. Just like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless other innocent victims of racial injustice and police violence,” says a statement about the expansive collection.

The Earth Issue is selling prints of each of the works in its shop through April 11, and a portion of the proceeds will go to BIPOC communities. See some of Colossal’s favorites below, and peruse all the photographs on the collective’s site. (via Juxtapoz)

 

Emily Hlavac Green, “Bird In A Cage” (2020)

Chukwuka Nwobi, “Ore” (2018)

Chieska Fortune Smith, “Back” (2018)

Jesse Crankson, “I Can’t Breathe” (2018)

Joachim Mueller-Ruchholtz, Marathonas, Greece (2019)

Left: Kay Ibrahim, “Flowerboy” (2018). Right: Kin Coedel, “Sky” (2016)

Tom Johnson, “Denis The Dancer,” Rio (2019)

 

 



Illustration

Write for Rights: An Illustrated Campaign for Amnesty International Aims to Free People Who Are Imprisoned

February 17, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Writing Carries Their Voice” (2020). All images © Amnesty International, shared with permission

A new campaign for Amnesty International exemplifies the power of the pencil in a moving series of illustrations by Bristol-based Owen Gent. Led by creative agency Cossette, the initiative was was designed for Write for Rights, an annual effort striving to free people around the world who are imprisoned unjustly. In the last two decades, it’s proven highly effective and boasted a 75 percent success rate after helping release 127 people.

Set on bold backdrops, Gent’s illustrations each utilize an oversized pencil that stands in for a spotlight, camera flash, boat’s wake, and sound booming from a megaphone, representing the issues facing this year’s targets—read more about Melike Balkan, Özgür Gür, the El Hiblu 3, Khaled Drareni, and Nassima al-Sada on Amnesty International’s site. The poignant renderings serve “as a reminder that even the smallest gesture can have a huge impact—it can change lives,” Cossette says.

Write for Rights is the world’s largest human rights event that generates millions of letters sent around the globe each year. You can find out more about this year’s efforts and how to join on the organization’s site.

 

“Writing Defends Freedom of the Press” (2020)

“Writing Frees the Innocent” (2020)

“Writing Saves Refugees” (2020)

 

 



Art

Little Amal: An Enormous Puppet Is Traveling 8,000km to Shine Light on the Refugee Crisis

October 12, 2020

Grace Ebert

Photograph by Bevan Roos. All images shared with permission

To draw attention to the ongoing refugee crisis, an oversized puppet will traverse 8,000 kilometers on a route starting at the Turkey-Syria border. From April to July 2021, “Little Amal” will travel across Greece, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, and France on a search “to find her mother. To get back to school. To start a new life.” The international journey will end in the United Kingdom, with a celebration at Manchester International Festival. Good Chance Theatre, a London-based organization dedicated to humanitarian and social justice efforts, is helming the public project “embodying the urgent message, ‘Don’t forget about us.'”

The 3.5-meter tall character, which was created by Handspring Puppet Company, will stop in 70 cities across Europe to meet with locals and participate in celebrations and education programs. “At this time of unprecedented global change, The Walk is an artistic response: a cultural odyssey transcending borders, politics, and language to tell a new story of shared humanity – and to ensure the world doesn’t forget the millions of displaced children, each with their own story,” Good Chance writes in a statement.

Check out the official map of Amal’s international journey and planned events on the project’s site, and follow along with updates on her progress on Instagram and YouTube. (via It’s Nice That)

 

Photograph by Bevan Roos

Photograph by Bevan Roos

Photograph by Bevan Roos

Photograph by Bevan Roos

Photograph by Bevan Roos

Photograph by Bevan Roos

Photograph by Nick Wall

 

 



Art

From Minneapolis to Syria, Artists Are Honoring George Floyd Through Murals and Public Artworks

June 2, 2020

Grace Ebert

A mural in Minneapolis by Xena Goldman, Cadex Herrera, Greta McLain, Niko Alexander, and Pablo Hernandez

In honor of George Floyd, a Black man murdered by a White police officer in May, artists have been painting murals and sharing messages in what now is a global movement supporting the victim. From Minneapolis to Los Angeles to Syria, the public artworks are drawing attention to the horrific killing, in addition to the larger issue of police perpetrating state-sanctioned violence.

A collaborative project by artists Xena GoldmanCadex Herrera, Greta McLain, Niko Alexander, and Pablo Hernandez, the Minneapolis mural centers Floyd within a sunflower. Herrera told Hyperallergic that the “idea was to depict Floyd not as a martyr but as a social justice hero.” He’s surrounded by the names of others killed by police, in addition to protestors. The 20-by-6.5-foot project is located near the Cup Foods where Floyd died.

Louisiana-born artist Jammie Holmes created typographic banners with Floyd’s last words that emblazoned the skies of U.S. cities. Bold statements reading, “Please I can’t breathe,” “My neck hurts,” and “They’re going to kill me,” flew over Detroit, Miami, Dallas, Los Angeles, and New York.

We’ve gathered some of the most recent projects below, including work from Syrian artists Aziz Asmar and Anis Hamdoun, Fayetville-based Octavio Logo, and Barcelona-based Tvboy. (via Artnet News)

 

Fayetteville mural by Octavio Logo. via Clarissa Bustamante

 

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A message that was flown over Detroit by Jammie Holmes

A mural by Jesus Cruz Artile, also known as Eme Freethinker, in Berlin

 

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A mural of George Floyd in Dublin, painted by street artist Emmalene Blake. | Image: Niall Carson/PA Images

Posted by RTÉ News on Monday, June 1, 2020

 

 

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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.