Artivism got its start in the summer of 2016 when a number of Big Thought’s students were attending a DaVerse Lounge event in Deep Ellum together. Tragically, that evening was the night of the downtown shooting where 5 officers lost their lives and 9 others were seriously wounded. Being close to downtown, they were surrounded by sirens as the news broke.
The youth were filled with emotions about the event – fear for their safety, mixed feelings about the shooter’s motivations and their own perceptions of policing in marginalized neighborhoods. These youth craved an opportunity to take action and have their voices be heard. Through their vision and leadership, Artivism was born.
Today, Artivism has evolved into a pre-professional project-based experience for youth artists with a passion for social justice. Youth ages 13-17 work side-by-side with professional artists to create multiple exhibits throughout the year, each centered around a specific theme and art medium.
While the youth artists may vary from project to project, the youth collectively develop and create a film documentary through the year.
Spring 2020: Well Read
When a potentially well-intended comment of “You’re so well read” is said to a person of color, the impact of the statement is felt as a microaggression.
What is the project about?
By breaking down the microaggressions that center on the ascription of intelligence for minorities, this project will dive into the youth’s relationship with the written word.
How? Altered books.
Glue it, cut it, tear it, paint it, sew it—however the youth wants to reimagine the book they are holding or the text they are reading, the process of altering books inspires a deeper examination of “don’t judge a book by its cover” and encourages the youth to reimagine themselves in narratives that may have previously felt unapproachable.
Why is this important?
In 2018 and at an 86% literacy rate, the United Sates ranked 125th globally. When comparing the percentage of adults with a high education and the percentage of those without, Texas lands 50th in the nation. And while Dallas ranks 37th when comparing cities nationally, San Antonio, El Paso, and Corpus Christi are all ranked in the 70s. When jumping into the massive amounts of research dedicated to this topic, one of the most frustrating is the availability of books when comparing low-income communities and affluent ones: 1 book for every 300 children as opposed to the average 12 books accessible in communities with quality resources. So, for marginalized youth, exposure to stories, let alone stories that reflect them and draw their engagement is nearly non-existent.
To experience Well Read and meet the youth artists, please join us for the Artivism Exhibit on March 21 from 2-5pm at Sunset Art Studios.