Richardson: Art as activismWritten by Rachel Richardson | | email@example.com
Art is a form of activism. It is a unique idea or observation made visual, or able to be heard, or able to be read. It is the tangible expression of something new. The act of creating a piece of art is radical. It can feel like a risk. What will come of it? Will anyone like it? Will the artist feel better once he or she has finished it? More satisfied with his or her existence? Relieved that the idea has been expressed? Different about the state of his or her surroundings? Will the artist understand what he or she created? Will the audience?
That’s a lot of questions, right? And the best part is that the answers can be damned. Who cares? We have a new piece of art here! The world is now a more beautiful place because of the act of art.
Activism is a form of art. An activist has spent time watching the way things are, identifying broken systems or societal needs, and has created a unique, perhaps untried, way to make change. This is also risky. The activist in many cases is working against decades, even generations, of status quo. They also may be met with resistance by those who will work diligently to guard that status quo.
In much the same way as the artist, the activist must throw all questions of how the idea will be received out the window and begin to create change with an absolute trust that what they are doing will have a positive impact. That good will come from good. The world is now a more beautiful place because of the art of activism.
The artist and the activist will each make sacrifices. The artist will live in his or her studio. The team of activists will share an apartment and move the office home to save on costs. Each will try to work in restaurants and bars or answer to someone else during the day, as long as they can steal away to paint or write songs or organize volunteers late into the night. Each will survive on very little food.
But, each knows that these sacrifices will ultimately be some of the most enriching experiences of their lives, and can continue to trust that the world needs what they are trying to give it.
Toledo is full of people doing these things, and has been for years and years. From people opening their homes to men and women living with HIV/AIDS to create the grassroots beginnings of David’s House Compassion in 1986 (its most recent form is the AIDS Resource Center), to a person opening his home in the Old West End just under two years ago to provide a place for musicians to perform and an appreciative audience to listen (The Robinwood Concert House at 2564 Robinwood Ave.).
We are a city full of artists and activists. And, at this moment in time, we are all feeling very empowered and energetic. The icing on the cake for this particular artist/activist is that we are all comrades. We support each other’s work and cheer each other on. We cooperate to work for something that is much bigger than us. We enjoy and celebrate our existence in Toledo and constantly reinforce a sense of community. There is no competition.
Toledo has a very strong foundation in this spirit of improving our corner of the world. It is what we do here. And yet, we are told we are miserable or are reminded through unoriginal punchlines that we are the place where the mayor wanted to move all of the deaf people out by the airport.
In March of this year, an organization was founded to elevate the discourse about Toledo and to boost pride and awareness in the things we do here that are beautiful and good and solid and working. Art Corner Toledo (ACT) will show you what we are here. ACT will attract and retain creative talent to Toledo so that we may continue to make art and activism.
Please learn more at the website http://artcornertoledo.com. And please stay tuned to Toledo Free Press Star. This artist/activist has a lot more to tell you.
Rachel Richardson is an activist, musician and a product of Toledo. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.