Get ready for Critical Social Justice: Ignite with our What You Need to Know series. Written by Alexia Petasis.
Activism can be defined as a “practice that emphasizes direct vigorous action especially in support of or opposition to one side of a controversial issue.” This can come in many forms and finding your own voice as an activist can be challenging. Something I’ve realized is that activism can meet you where you are at, and there is beauty in combining your passions with your role as an activist. The arts, whether that is performing arts (dance or theatre), visual arts (painting, photography, etc), or fine arts (poetry, music, etc) have the ability to convey complex stories, perspectives, and emotions and creates space to understand the experiences of others. As a powerful medium of communication, the arts can lend themselves well to activism and advocacy work.
As an introduction to Critical Social Justice week, the Women’s Center will be hosting Art as Feeling, Art as Knowledge: A Conversation, from 6:30 to 8 pm on Wednesday, October 17th in the Fine Arts Recital Hall. This event will demonstrate ways in which both the performing and visual arts can be used for social justice activism. In recognition of Relationship Violence Awareness Month, the dance, choreographed by Alexia Petasis, will reflect the development and progression of relationship violence. Alexia collaborated with the We Believe You student group and the Women’s Center to share her choreographed piece in April 2018 for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The dance provoked conversation and experiences that many found unable to understand before witnessing this dance piece. Read more on this Retriever review here. Jen White-Johnson, Visual Arts ’08, will be sharing the ways she uses visual art, specifically graphic design, to empower individuals with autism. Inspired by her son Knox and the intersectional identities he has, Jen’s photography, design, and writing celebrate the joy of being a child on the spectrum. See more of her work here.
Another event the Women’s Center will be hosting as part of CSJ:Ignite is our Community Art Project on October 23, from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm on Academic Row. This event aims to engage and create space for individuals to imagine what a social justice future looks like. Join us to come together as a community and use art as a way of expressing our own visions of a socially just future. There will be popcorn and lots of art supplies! If you are an artist and want to learn how to use your talents to speak out, if you are an activist and haven’t quite considered how art can be integrated within social justice movements, or if you are generally curious about all the knowledge that will be shared throughout this event, everyone is welcome!