March On! Texas

Author: Kelly McMichael

Artist/Activist Lisa Anne Auerbach

Artist/Activist Lisa Anne Auerbach

Lisa Anne Auerbach is well known for her politicized knitwear—sweaters and other types of clothing hand and machine knit that include symbols or text that have a political meaning.  But in addition to knitting, she has also been working with other forms of textiles, photographs, zines, and in gouache.   She is interested in the ways in which humans communicate with each other, especially non-verbally through architecture and symbolism.

Lisa Anne Auerbach, “My Jewish Grandma is Voting for Obama/Chosen People.

During the election, Auerbach developed a series called “Make America,” a spin-off of Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.  Auerbach said that,
“during the 2016 Presidential Election, one of the candidate’s slogans was “Make America Great Again,” which of course implies that America is currently not “great” but once was and could be again. I have no idea what he’s talking about, but I have some ideas for other things America might prioritize in the future.”

Image by Lisa Anne Auerbach

Since the election, she has continued with this “Make America” series but instead of in red, blue, and white, she is now working in black and white, resonating the sense of hopelessness many Americans are feeling—or symbolically representing the stark contrast between Obama and Trump’s version of America.

Image by Lisa Anne Auerbach

Auerbach said of the painting “Hurt People Hurt People” that, “One of my students said this in class in reference to bullying and I thought, “well, wow, maybe that explains it.” Hurt people like to blast off missiles and then they don’t hurt enough people so they drop a giant bomb and that doesn’t hurt enough people so they try to defund Planned Parenthood… I don’t feel sorry for the guy because he’s hurt; I just want him to take his slithering, destroyed, impaired and crackpot brain and get it someplace where he can’t hurt any more people. Outer space would be fine, as long as he can’t tweet from there.”

Image by Lisa Anne Auerbach

Auerbach has some words of wisdom for all of us resisting the agenda of hate. “You think it can’t get any worse; then the sun comes up and a new day brings even more chaos and scandal. The challenge is to stay informed but not let it make you nuts. Don’t go on total news strike, just take a day off. Don’t cancel your newspaper subscription; without a functioning press we are sunk. Take time to pull weeds or listen to some music or go on a hike. It’s Saturday and a beautiful day even though it seems like everything is shattering, the waters are rising, the air is clouding and our leadership is a simmering crock pot of madmen.”

Consider purchasing one of her grayscale paintings; the income from these works is being donated to organizations working to help Americans when the government fails them.


See more paintings on Auerbach’s instagram account @auerbachtoberfest

Check out Auerbach’s website for more images and information.

Texas Artist Activist Suzann Thompson is “Celebrating Doilies”

Texas Artist Activist Suzann Thompson is “Celebrating Doilies”

Textile artist Suzann Thompson believes that hand work is a deeply engrained element of activism in women’s culture and speaks to the ties between “stitching” and activism, citing how American women have engaged in these kinds of activities since the Revolutionary War when they boycotted British shipments of finished cloth and instead, wove their own rough cloth to make clothing and protest the Crown’s taxation policies.

Continuing in this tradition, her upcoming exhibit “Celebrate Doilies!” honors this heritage of needlework. She says that, “that Texas, especially rural Texas, has a deep heritage of crochet.” Women might not have had much, if any, expendable income but they could usually buy thread and used that to beautify their homes. Crochet was a cheap way to relax, be creative, and unwind, especially after a long day on the farm.

Thompson’s artwork uses vintage and antique doilies, combined with other fibers and embellishments, to create new works that honor and highlight the original doilies. She has been collecting doilies for a while, not certain what to do with them, when she overheard a man comment that he had many doilies made by female family members and that he did not want to part with them, but he didn’t know how to “deal with them,” either. That’s when she decided she would work do a series of doily inspired artwork that focuses on family heritage and legacy.

Two themes run through the upcoming “Celebrate Doilies!” exhibit: frugality and art as therapy. She tells the story of how a woman told her that her father crocheted at the end of the day to unwind. There were five kids in the family and he said that he had to crochet because it “calmed himself down.” She tells another story about a doily that was made entirely out of the string saved from chicken feed sacks. Talk about frugal!

To test out that possibility, Thompson saved the string from five large bags of cat food and was able to crochet a small heart. She knows now how many dozens of bags of feed it required to make that large doily and yet this homesteader persisted, using what materials she could pull to hand to beautify her home and, without realizing it, left a legacy of her own creativity.

Art by Suzann Thompson. Image by Suzann Thompson.

Thompson says that doilies and other handwork “tie us to our past and our families.” She recalls a quote from a woman that she once read who said of a crocheted blanket, “every inch of this yarn went through my grandmother’s hands. Her DNA is on this afghan.”

I’m not sure if the pussy hats knitted and crocheted over the last several months will be equally as valued in the future as have crocheted doilies but they are a current example of how handwork and craft are inherently personal acts that cross over into the political. If the “personal is political,” as second wave feminists like to say, then crocheted doilies are a prime example of how such small, inconsequential items can reverberate over time, becoming embedded with deep meaning.

Learn more about the Celebrate Doilies exhibit and Suzann Thompson’s art work. You can also find her on Facebook.

In addition to Thompson’s art, poet Sandi Horton is also featured in the “Celebrate Doilies!” Horton’s poetry and family crochet are included, and she will read a selection of her work at the show’s closing reception August 19th at the Cross Timbers Fine Arts Council.

This traveling exhibit begins in Stephenville and then moves to Granbury. If you are interested in hosting this exhibit, please contact the artist via her website. (link)

Additionally, Thompson is raising funds through Kickstarter to help the exhibit reach more people.

 

 

Artist Activist Lisa Congdon:  Women Stay Fierce

Artist Activist Lisa Congdon: Women Stay Fierce

As a fine artist and illustrator known for making whimsical illustrations, Lisa Congdon makes no excuses when it comes to her activist art, despite pushback from some of her fans who say they’d rather just see her “pretty pictures.”  But Congdon refuses to be silent, even at the risk of losing followers.  She argues that as an artist, she must speak her “truth.”  By this she means expressing herself as a “whole” person, not compartmentalizing her private life and opinions apart from her art but rather integrating them so that she gives voice to the things that matter to her. 

The things that she most cares about come from her place as a woman and a lesbian in an American culture that regards both as secondary—the female as subordinate to the male and homosexuality as, at best, inferior to heterosexuality, or worse, as illegal or “immoral.”  Congdon is navigating how to situate these experiences through art so that she serves as a voice for women, lesbians, and others who are marginalized and do not have as strong of a presence or platform.

Having worked with both the Clinton and Obama campaigns, the Human Rights campaign, and other progressive causes, Congdon is no stranger to speaking her truth but she is committed to doing even more.  Here’s a plan of action she set out recently in a blog post and one she encourages other activists to follow:

“+Use your pain to express yourself.
+Make time to express your feelings and beliefs through your art.
+Own your anger or frustration. Do not let others tell you to “settle down.”
+Be authentic: say what you feel and in a way that you would say it. Speak your truth!
+Stop worrying about whether people will stop following you or like what you post.
+Participate in fundraisers with your work.
+Support causes you care about through your art — raise money, encourage others to donate, do pro-bono work for them.
+Connect with other artists who are also interested in using their work and platforms to shed light on political issues and human rights issues you care about; collaborate with them!
+Research workshops in your community that teach about activism for artists. Participate in local initiatives.
+Follow and support fellow artists who are using their platforms to express themselves. This is a time to unite!”

Pictures are copyrighted by Lisa Congdon and kindly shared here.

lisacongdon.com:  website and blog

lisacongdon:  instragram

Interview originally posted on www.howtocopewithtrump.com–an online community for new political activists.

The Voting App:  “The Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How” of Local Elections

The Voting App: “The Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How” of Local Elections

Don’t want to vote in today’s election because you aren’t sure for whom to cast your ballot?

Not to worry, there’s an App for that. F. Joeseph Santori and Jeff Cardenas, co-founders of an Austin-based technology company developed The Voting App, a free nonpartisan tool that aggregates the “who, what, where, when, why, and how” of local elections, according to address.

Santori and Cardenas developed this App to increase voter turnout. When looking at the best place to test the application, they chose San Antonio because it has one of the lowest voter turnouts in the nation. Reports estimate that less than one out of every ten registered voters actually voted in San Antonio in the past.

After successful launches in San Antonio, Houston, and Austin, the App is now available state-wide. The tool will include other states soon, and the company is coordinating with many organizations to expand the applications’ capabilities.

No more excuses. Get the App and get to the polls by 7 p.m. tonight.

Find out more about the Texas addition of the App and download now.

 

Artist Activist Kim Werker:  Get a Free Pussy Hat Pattern

Artist Activist Kim Werker: Get a Free Pussy Hat Pattern

Kim Werker: artist activist

Kim Werker published a free Pussyhat pattern prior to the Women’s March and it has opened the door for her feminism and activism to become more integral to her work as a crochet pattern developer and creative counselor.  But activism isn’t new for Werker, who grew up in a “politically literate family” where her mother was a union activist, showing her the strength that women have in the home and at work.  Since holding her first elected position in a high school youth group, Werker has been determined to “leave the world in better shape” than she found it.

Hundreds of women have downloaded her Pussyhat pattern and signed up for her newsletter that highlights the intersection of craft and activism, a new project that has Werker excited because she has finally found a platform that combines two of her strongest interests—crafting and activism, or what is known as “craftivism.”

But she’s not alone in combining these two pursuits.  If you weren’t aware that this is an actual thing, it is.  There are many artists and crafters working to make a difference in the world through their hand-made objects, such as crocheted and knitted blankets, for example.

I asked Werker how “regular” people could combine their crafting with political activism and she offered some suggestions:  find a craftivist group near you.  There are groups located all over the world.  You can start by locating quilting or sewing circles, yarn-bombing groups, or an arts collective.  You can also start with a bigger organization and see if they have a craftivist group associated with them.

Werker said, “The way I see it, craftivism is about using craft as your voice to express the change you want to see in the world – whether it’s to highlight injustice or to present a solution to it, whether it’s to add your voice to a collection of others or to be as bold and loud as possible on your own. For many of us, especially women who are trained from a young age to be polite and smile, it can be intimidating – or downright terrifying – to speak up about what we believe in. Allowing our craft to serve as our voice can be a great way to bootstrap into being more literally vocal. And once we’re comfortable using our actual voices, our craft can be a way to amplify them.”

Click here to get the Pussyhat pattern and detailed instructions, including videos.

Sign up for Werker’s Action and Craft weekly newsletter here. 

Visit Werker’s website and check out her book, Make it Mighty Ugly.

Alice Beasley, Artist Activist Working in Fabric for Change

Alice Beasley, Artist Activist Working in Fabric for Change

I was first introduced to Alice Beasley’s work through her quilt made to honor President Barack Obama in honor of his inauguration. The piece was part of an exhibition curated by Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi called “Journey of Hope.” Beasley wove these words taken from Obama’s inauguration address into the border of the quilt, “We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus and nonbelievers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of the earth. And because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hates shall someday pass…”

“We are a Nation,” Alice Beasley. 2009. Image by Alice Beasley

It’s a fine epigraph and Beasley incorporates this view into her own work. From Oakland, California, Alice Beasley is an artist who works in fabric to create realistic portraits of people and objects. In her artist statement she says that, “I find color, light, shadow, line and value in the pattern of ordinary household fabrics as well as from fabrics that I print myself. From these I snip small pieces, which I arrange and fuse into a figurative composition. As such the work grows from within rather than being applied to the surface of a canvas by paint, pencil, or similar drawing tools. When the image is complete, I sew it together with the stitch line, constituting the final “drawn” line.”

No Vote, No Voice”
“In 2014 a conservative majority in the Supreme Court eviscerated the Voting Rights Act thereby becoming complicit in the active suppression of the votes of minority citizens by state legislatures. Over the past four years—and for the first time since the Jim Crow era—nearly two dozen states have passed new laws making it harder to vote.” Quilt composed of cotton and silk fabrics.
Image by Alice Beasley

 

Beasley’s work, “No Vote, No Voice” won first place at the Petaluma Arts Center Show, The NeuwPolitic: Artists Explore.” Artists who contributed to the exhibit were asked to consider in their work that, “Now is the time for a much-needed dialogue surrounding politics; can art help start these conversations and facilitate the connections that are so needed?” Beasley seems to answer “yes” to this question, as witnessed in many of her works.

“Gator in Chief,” Alice Beasley. Image by Alice Beasley

 

Recent politically inclined work includes, an “ode to the Gator in Chief,” called “Feeding Time at the Swamp,” which will be on exhibit in a solo show opening June 3 at Bay Quilts in Richmond, California and then continuing as part of the nationally traveling exhibition “Threads of Resistance.” http://threadsofresistance.blogspot.com/search/label/exhibition%20schedule

Beasley said of the work, “it was shameful actions such as the new TrumpNoCare Act that caused me to make this new piece called ‘Feeding Time at the Swamp’. We’re all being fed to the greedy reptiles in this heartless administration one body part at a time.”

Learn more about Beasley’s art in this video that includes details about “Blood Line,” which was included in the “Stories of Migration: Contemporary Artists Interpret Diaspora” exhibit at the George Washington University Textile Museum https://museum.gwu.edu/disapora

Find more information and images about Beasley’s work on her website and her facebook page.

More images and information about Beasley can be found at www.howtocopewithtrump.com, where this article was originally published.

Artist Activist Ciena Valenzuela-Peterson Explores the Pain the Mexican-American Community is Feeling in Her Art

Artist Activist Ciena Valenzuela-Peterson Explores the Pain the Mexican-American Community is Feeling in Her Art

I picked up a copy of RESIST!, the women’s rights graphic newspaper released just before the Women’s Day March in January and was captured by Ciena Valenzuela-Peterson’s illustration, “Temo.”  I did a little digging to find out more about the artist and realized that there wasn’t much online because she is sixteen years old and at the beginning of her career.  It took a bit to find an email address, but I was able to establish contact with her and she agreed to an interview.  Here is it in full:

Kelly McMichael (KM):  How old are you and how did you get started making art?

Ciena Valenzuela-Peterson (CVP):  “I am 16 years old, and I’ve been making art throughout my whole life. As a child, I grew up in an environment where my creativity was fostered and encouraged. My art grew from crayon scribbles to pencil fairies to graphite eyes and now digital faces. Most of the art I make nowadays is for my AP Art class in school.”

KM:  What led you to paint “Temo?”

CVP:  “Temo” is my attempt to consolidate all the pain felt by the Mexican-American community over Trump’s election into one image. It’s my rawest and most emotionally potent work of art, because I started working on it the day after the election and channeled as much of my emotional energy into it as possible. The shock and despair on the girl’s face mirrored my own. The Mexican flag and the American flag are side by side as the girl’s tears to show that both identities are equally valid, despite those trying to convince us that they must be mutually exclusive. The flowers represent everything that is beautiful about Mexican culture, but above them I wrote every vile thing Trump has said about Mexicans or Mexican immigrants. Trump and his supporters ignore our rich and vibrant culture and have no regard for the inherent worth and dignity of every person, instead believing shallow and racist lies. I grew up believing in hope and kindness and respect, but waking up to the news of Trump’s victory on November 9th truly made me feel like hatred had won. That is why I needed to create this artwork.”

KM:  Do you consider yourself an artist activist—or is this painting a one-off because of something more personal?

CVP:  “This painting was my first artwork of the kind, but certainly not the last. What brought the painting to life was my incredibly strong emotional reaction to the events going on in the world. I was moved to create, and so I did. I cannot imagine I will never be motivated to make more political art, especially with the way a new horror seems to be unfolding every day. However, I wouldn’t call it activist art. To me, activism demands and creates bigger changes. My art is much more self-reflective, expressing my interpretation of this struggle. By sharing it, I hope I’ve stirred emotions in like-minded people and perhaps even in those who would typically disagree with me, but to call the art in and of itself activism seems too self-important to me. After all, I created “Temo” for myself, to release some of the pain I had been feeling and express what I couldn’t quite say with words; it was only after I looked back on the finished product that I thought, “Hey, you might have something here,” and decided to submit it to publications like Resist. I do think activism is now more important than it has ever been in my lifetime, and I will participate in any way I can.”

KM:  I see that you are donating all of the proceeds from selling your print to border Angels and the ACLU.  Can you tell us why these organizations are important to you?

CVP:  “The ACLU has an incredibly long history of standing up for civil rights in America. They are well known, reliable, and have been behind so much positive legal action and change. Most recently the ACLU has been taking on Trump’s Muslim ban, another issue I feel is horrifically wrong and deeply important to combat.

Border Angels is a smaller organization that aims to protect and empower Mexican migrant workers. These people face so much discrimination, racism, and struggle, and the looming threat of deportation allows employers to manipulate and exploit them even more. Border Angels gives migrants access to education, immigration consultations, and necessities like water that save the lives of those trekking through the desert.”

KM:  What’s next for you?

CVP:  “I will attend all the marches and protests I can, donate to organizations besides ACLU and Border Angels, and stand up for what I believe in. My mentality is this: If I’m going to get so upset about what’s going on, spend so much emotional energy on politics and civil rights, then I better be putting actions to my words. I will not allow myself to be inactive and complacent. And if I find myself moved again, the same way I was when making “Temo,” then I will absolutely make more art.”

You can purchase a print of Ciena Valenzuela-Peterson’s “Temo” from her website http://etcetezine.bigcartel.com/product/temo-art-print

Learn more about artists who are activists on www.howtocopewithtrump.com

Artist Activist Abigail Gray Swartz and Rosie the Riveter in her knitted Pink Pussy Hat

Artist Activist Abigail Gray Swartz and Rosie the Riveter in her knitted Pink Pussy Hat

You may know Abigail Gray Swartz’s work.  She’s been getting a lot of attention lately because of her Rosie the Riveter cover on the New Yorker magazine.  But Rosie is a woman of color, and she’s sporting a knitted pink pussy cap. Swartz says of attending the march and producing the New Yorker cover,
“On the Monday following the (women’s) march, I started thinking about the art I wanted to make in response to my own experience, as well as the collective experience of women nationally and worldwide.

I adored seeing the images flooding in of the sea of women (and men) in pink hats. So much pink! I saw a headline from a newspaper that read “She the People” and I thought, “She The People: The revolution will be handmade.”

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Terrilynn Quick and the Uterus Flag Project:  Crafting Women’s Health Awareness

Terrilynn Quick and the Uterus Flag Project: Crafting Women’s Health Awareness

Thursday the House of Representatives narrowly passed a measure to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act, and the Huffington Post referred to the proposed bill as a “’Coordinated Attack’ on Women’s Health Care.” While this round of legislation appears particularly harmful to women, the state of women’s health services have been at the mercy of men and a male-dominated medical profession for too long.

Artist activist Terrilynn Quick recognized this problem and began to address it through her work.   She started the Uterus Flag Project in 2010, which is an investigation into the socio-political concerns around women’s health issues, looking specifically at the overuse and misuse of hysterectomies in America. The project serves as a beginning point of conversation for women who are often silent about their health concerns and too trusting of doctors, who may recommend a hysterectomy without considering other options or a woman’s long term health plan.

The project is based on the idea of the sit and stitch, which is grounded in the feminist ideals of “sharing, conversation, consciousness raising, and craft.” It’s a time for women to create but to also engage with each other about their health concerns and other issues that women face in society today. Women have a long history of this type of collaboration but have not engaged in hand-work like this as much in the late 20th and early 21st centuries as in the past. The Uterus Flag Project is just one attempt at bringing this type of collaborative coordination among women back.

Image courtesy of Terrilynn Quick

Like all craftivism, it is yet another way of giving a voice—both visually and through testimonies of participants—to issues of social justice. In this case by bringing awareness to unnecessary hysterectomies, especially for women who are unaware of the options available besides uterus removal. About 600,000 hysterectomies are performed annually in the United States and it is the second most common surgery performed on women of childbearing age (cesarean sections are the first.) By the age of 60, more than one third of all women have had some form of a hysterectomy.

While some hysterectomies are necessary, such as with invasive cancer, many are not, and the surgery carries risks that many women are not made aware of, such as damage to other organs such as the urinary tract or bowel, that can cause long-term complications. Additionally, young women who have hysterectomies are at an increased risk for heart attacks, stroke, and early menopause. The surgeries have also been associated with serious urinary issues, sexual dysfunction, and depression.*

Thoughtful consideration and conversations should be engaged in prior to a woman’s consenting to a hysterectomy. Many are avoidable, especially if the condition is not causing any problematic symptoms. Learn more about the risks and alternatives to hysterectomies at the National Women’s Health Network.

Find more images of the Uterus Flag Project at www.howtocopewithtrump.com

*https://www.nwhn.org/hysterectomy/

Learn more about the Uterus Flag Project here and here.

Check out this video about the uterus flag project.

Volunteers are Crucial to High Voter Turnout

Volunteers are Crucial to High Voter Turnout

This week’s Marching Orders asked people to get out and vote in the local municipal and school elections that end today.   Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

This contest is for school boards, local officials, and even a few mayoral positions. In the past, many Texans have not bothered to vote in municipal elections. Most did not find out who was running or even what positions were contested.

But voting in these local elections is the most fundamental aspect of a practicing democracy, and these are where a person’s vote can have the most impact. If you ever believed that your vote didn’t matter—these local elections are where you can see one or two people deciding the fate of a community.

For example in Collin County, voters will approve or reject six bond propositions that will fund street, public safety, and park improvements, as well as monies to build new recreation centers and libraries. One of the bonds will impact local historic preservation. Five cities will cast votes for mayors, a government representative with whom constituents can have almost daily contact.

The good news is that voter apathy appears to be much lower in this year’s municipal elections, in part due to the efforts many volunteers have engaged in for specific candidates. Volunteers, many of whom marched in one of the Women’s Marches in January, have taken that excitement and relayed it into a steady commitment to activism, volunteering their time and money to help progressive candidates, some of whom are running in their first election. Volunteers have manned phone banks and hit the pavement, going door-to-door to talk with potential voters.

These efforts are having a huge impact. The first day of early voting resulted in record-breaking turnouts across the state, exceeded by the second day of voting. Here are some early numbers: In Harris County, 73,542 votes were cast as compared with 51,578 votes in 2012 on the second day. In Travis County, 38,079 votes were cast, as compared with 16,382 votes on day two in 2012.

It’s not too late for you to vote. The only way to turn Texas blue is to vote for progressive candidates. None of the other efforts matter if we do not show up at the polls. Get out there and make your voice heard.

Find out more about what is on the ballot.