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
Interview originally posted on www.howtocopewithtrump.com–an online community for new political activists.
Texas is a very supportive state…if you’re heterosexual. But if you’re not, the Republican-led Texas legislature supports some very strong policies against you.
One such bill that passed this session allows faith-based, child-welfare service providers that contract with the state to refuse LGBTQ parents from providing a safe and loving home for thousands of kids. Siting religious belief is not only a form of discrimination, it also denies kids a chance to join a family sooner. How is this helping anyone?
And now that Governor Abbott has decided to hold a special session, the “bathroom” bill is sure to make another appearance. We can expect another heated debate over which bathroom transgender individuals can use.
We at MarchOn! Texas believe that the government should not discriminate against its citizens based upon who they love or how they identify themselves.
You can show your support for the LGBTQ community by attending the Texas Equality March this Sunday, June 11, noon – 4 pm at the Texas Capitol. For more details about this event click here: Texas Equality March.
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.
President Trump may not care about the impact of global warming, but we at MarchOn! Texas sure do! Like many other mayor, governors and business leaders, we’ve got to take matters into our own hands.
You may be wondering, “I’m just one person. Can anything I do really make an impact?” The answer is a resounding yes. Here are five things you can do in fact.
5 Ways You Can Save Planet Earth
Watch your water usage. Water is our most precious resource and we tend to waste it. Turn off your faucet when you’re brushing your teeth. Use cold water to wash your laundry when possible, and wait until you have a full load. Switch your yard to a Xeriscape (pronounced zeer-escape), which is fancy for low-water/low-maintenance plants. It will save water, maintenance and money.
Eat less red meat. According to a Guardian article, giving up beef could reduce your carbon footprint more than giving up your car! Why? Because it takes 11 times more water and 28 times more land to raise cattle than chickens or pigs.
As a nice side bonus, you will get healthier in the process. Chicken and port are leaner meats than beef. Not ready to give it up entirely? Cut it down to just twice a month.
Drive smarter. Whenever possible, take public transit or ride your bike instead of your car. Buy the most fuel efficient model available; consider a hybrid for your next purchase. When you have errands, group them together so you are doing all of them in one trip instead of multiple ones. Slowing down when you drive helps your fuel economy and checking your tires for proper air levels will reduce pollution and greenhouse emissions.
Make your house more energy efficient. Turn off the lights when you leave the room. Raise the A/C temperature when you leave the house. Close the window blinds to prevent your house from heating up in the summer. Make sure your doors and windows have proper seals so they aren’t leaking out air conditioning or heat during the winter.
Reduce, reuse, recycle. We Americans generate a lot of trash every year. The average person generates 4.6 pounds of trash per day! Recycling reduces greenhouse emissions by using up less landfill space. Take the extra time and sort your trash. If you have a water bottle, refill it with tap water instead of buying new plastic ones. Compost if you are able. Go to the park or beach this weekend and pick up some trash.
We have one planet and it’s everyone’s responsibility to care for it. Just being more mindful and making some of the small changes helps. It’s up to us now!
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.”
A hero is usually defined as someone who acts courageously in extraordinary circumstances. We think about the three brave men who fought a white supremacist shouting at two Muslim girls on an Oregon train; two of the men were stabbed to death while the third remains in the hospital.
We think about superheroes in comic books and movies, like Wonder Woman and Superman. We think about soldiers facing bullets, firefighters facing flames and police officers killed in the line of duty.
But does heroism require facing death? What about everyday heroes? From parents, to teachers, to kids who stand up to bullies on the playground there are brave actions taken daily.
Do you know an everyday hero who you’d like to give a shout-out to? Post their story with the hashtag #EveryDayHero on our Facebook page. Let’s inspire each other.
Aside from Superman and Batman, Wonder Woman ranks as one of the most popular comic book heroes of our times and since the beginning she has been steeped in controversy.
Perhaps you know the story the story of Wonder Woman? Here’s a quick backstory, summarized from DC.Wikia.com:
Back in 1200 BC the Greek goddesses gathered all the souls of women murdered by men (save for one, who would become Diana) and placed them on Paradise Island where they became immortal Amazon warriors. In the 20th century Queen Hippolyta took the soul of the unborn child of the first murdered woman, whom Hippolyta was a reincarnation of, molded some clay by the shore and turned it into a baby girl named Diana, who would one day become known as Wonder Woman.
Blessed by the goddesses, Diana was given gifts like strength, wisdom, courage and some super human powers like running fast and having a very strong threshold for pain. She was raised by a sisterhood of badass warrior women.
One day the gods said an emissary had to be sent to the Man’s World (aka America). Queen Hippolyta held a contest and forbid Diana to enter, but like any good rebellious daughter, she disguised herself, won the contest and went off to save the planet from a nuclear holocaust.
She was given a lasso of truth, warrior’s attire, and she also learned to pilot an invisible jet at some point. She could hold her own against gods and monsters and had a sweet spot for Superman.
That origin story alone is enough to start a conversation at the water cooler. But what is less know, and I daresay even more controversial, is the history of the comic character’s author, Dr. William Moulton Marston, as documented in the Smithsonian article The Surprising Origin of Wonder Woman as summarized below.
In 1933, the creator of comic books, Maxwell Charles Gaines, was under a lot of pressure from outside forces who viewed the stories as too violent for children. He read an article in Family Circle by Olive Richard where comic books were defended by psychologist Dr. Marston as not promoting torture or violence but to inspire heroes to save the damsels in distress. Dr. Marston not only held a Harvard degree, but was also widely credited as inventing the lie detector machine. (Hence, we have the lasso of truth.)
Gaines decided to hire Marston as a consultant to refute claims that comics were bad for kids.
What Gaines didn’t know was that the woman who wrote the article wasn’t really Olive Richard; her name was Olive Byrne. And she didn’t just visit Marston to write an article, she lived with him. In 1925 she was his former psychology student and became his lover, even though he was already married to a lawyer named Elizabeth Holloway.
But wait, there’s more. He gave his wife an ultimatum: either Bryne moved in or he would get a divorce. (Bryne moved in.) And between 1928 and 1933 each woman had two children by him. This was kept secret and they told people that Bryne was a widowed relative who lived with them.
That wasn’t the only secret. Bryne’s aunt was one of the most important feminists of the 20th century, Margaret Sanger. Margaret and Bryne’s mother, Ethyl Bryne, opened the first birth-control clinic in the United States and they were both jailed for distributing contraception, which was illegal in 1917.
Marston eventually went from being a consultant to the creator of the first female superhero, Wonder Woman. His relationship with not one but two strong women influenced the storylines considerably. This direct connection to the feminist movement also remained hidden.
He specifically saw Wonder Woman as the new definition of a powerful woman, breaking free of the bonds of male dominance on Paridise Island. This explains why she tells villains she conquers, “Submit!”
Chains were a common symbol of the women’s suffrage movement, as well reproductive rights, where unwanted pregnancies were viewed as a ball and chain around the woman.
Sometimes the drawings crossed over into the imagery of sadomasochism and bondage, especially on Paradise Island where a lot of the kinky stuff went down. As early as 1942 Wonder Woman ended up on the blacklist “Disapproved for Youth” because “Wonder Woman is not sufficiently dressed.”
In 1953 there was a senate committee hearing about comic books and Wonder Woman was singled out by another psychiatrist, Fredric Wertham, who believed her feminism and equality with men to be grave for society. After that the storylines were toned down.
Lynda Carter reinvented the character on the 1975 TV show Wonder Woman as a strong and sexy powerhouse who deflected bullets with her bracelets.
Want to know another little secret? The years that Marston, Bryne and Holloway lived together, Bryne didn’t wear a wedding ring (polygamy was/is illegal); instead she wore…bracelets.
Wonder Woman made controversial headlines again just last year, on the 75th anniversary of her creation. Less than two months after she was made an honorary ambassador to the UN for the empowerment of women and girls she was stripped of the title.
A petition signed by more than 44,000 people stated, “Although the original creators may have intended Wonder Woman to represent a strong and independent warrior woman with a feminist message, the reality is that the character’s current iteration is that of a large breasted, white woman of impossible proportions, scantily clad in a shimmery, thigh-baring body suit with an American flag motif and knee high boots –the epitome of a pin-up girl.”
Of course, not everyone agrees with that assessment. Many women find Barbie dolls and Disney princesses to be symbols of inequality with impossibly thin physiques, while Wonder Woman displays power and some serious muscle tone.
On Friday, the latest version of Wonder Woman debuts on the big screen, played by Israeli actress and model Gal Gadot and (surprise!) there is another controversy. Austin’s Alamo Drafthouse has a women’s-only viewing scheduled for this week and it sparked male outrage for reverse discrimination. Of course as noted in Gizmodo, of the 130 comic book movies released since 1920 only 8 of them have female leads, none since 2005, so it’s hard to justify all their fuss.
What do you think? Is Wonder Woman a strong feminist? A blatant sex object? Propaganda for an alternative lifestyle? Why not start a conversation with someone about her? It could lead to some interesting discussions.
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…”
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.”
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.
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.
Every mother since the dawn of time has had to navigate society to prepare her children for what they will face in the world. Each generation has their own cross to bear, but as a mom of two I kind of wish they were growing up when I did in the 80’s and not today’s crazy environment.
The world constantly reminds us that it is dangerous and there are those who wish us harm. The other night at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester a suicide bomber blew himself up along with 22 others, mostly young girls. It makes me sick and scared and want to pull my children closer to me.
Nationally, Trump’s proposed federal budget released today outlines his priorities, namely increasing the military, cutting taxes for the richest and services like Medicare and food stamps for the poorest.
Locally, over the weekend Texas was in the news for passing some of the most discriminating legislation in modern times. Heck, it even started being called “Discrimination Sunday” on social media!
SB6 says high school transgender students have to use the bathroom of their gender at birth. Another bill allows child adoption and foster care agencies to refuse to place children with non-Christian, unmarried or gay parents due to religious objections. SB8 cuts off access to abortion after 14 weeks and forces mothers to pay burial costs for the fetus.
How do I explain to my children that there are real threats (terrorists) and imagined ones (i.e. – gay and transgender people can’t be trusted around children) and that a small group of very conservative men in government who run things can’t seem to tell the difference between the two? How can I explain why they want to punish people for being poor and take away the rights of women to have control over their own bodies?
The honest answer is that I can’t explain it, because the ultra conservative populist reasoning makes no sense to me and isn’t based on facts, just their own personal beliefs and biases.
But what I can explain is that the only way to change this is to stand up, speak up, and vote in progressives who envision a world that is inclusive.
Globally, progressives believe in keeping our country safe in a smart way, not by building some ten foot chain link wall or enacting a Muslim Ban against countries where none of the terrorists were even born, but by properly and selectively vetting people who mean to do us harm.
Progressives respect intelligence agencies like the CIA and FBI and facts versus conspiracy theories. Progressives believe in alliances with our NATO partners and when a country like Israel puts their people on the line to share intelligence with us about ISIS, our president would never share that code-word classified information with the Russians!
Nationally progressives can be pro-life without being anti-choice. The world isn’t black or white; it’s many shades of gray and the decision to become a mother (or not) is one of the most impactful choices a woman can make. We believe that only she knows what’s best for her own specific situation and her own body, not a panel of middle-aged men pretending to be holier-than-thou and passing blanket judgments that impact all women, but especially poor ones.
Let’s be frank. If you are a woman of means and decide after the 14 week mark that you want to have an abortion, you have the option to take a bus or plane ride to a different state. But if you’re poor? Where are you going to go?
Locally, the Texas legislature has been railing about defunding Planned Parenthood and changing laws to make “choice” effectively a non-choice for many women who can’t afford the travel costs to an out-of-state clinic. The government wants to effectively punish low-income women for having sex and not wanting to be a mother.
These same politicians, so concerned about the unborn, seemingly care even less should the baby actually be born. The new healthcare bill that passed the House delivers massive tax cuts to the wealthiest and cuts Medicaid from the poorest. The CBO estimated that 24 million people (including babies) will lose their health care coverage.
The Republican congress wants to eliminate essential benefits, such as maternity care. And if your baby is born with a heart condition, like Jimmy Kimmel’s was, well that’s a pre-existing condition. Good luck paying the bill.
Progressives believe in a woman’s right to choose, and if she chooses to become a mother progressives want her and her baby to have proper medical care, and food stamps too if they’re needed. Because progressives wouldn’t let a mother and her babies go hungry so the richest 1% can get an extra tax cut that they don’t even need.
But wishing for progressives to run things isn’t going to change anything, talking about it on Facebook doesn’t do anything, but if you actually contact your representatives at town halls, in their office, on the phone, by mail or online, now you are making your voice heard.
And if your representatives don’t listen to you, then it’s time to do absolutely everything that you can to get them out of power and get progressives in their place.
Let’s start at the local level. Of the progressive candidates identified by Marchers, 16 of them have runoff elections! Help them get the vote out. Knock on doors, donate to their cause, remind your friends and family to vote. Click here for more information: Support the June 10th runoff elections!
When our children are hurting, a kiss from mom makes everything better. Our nation is hurting now and it’s up to all of us to take action. The only way things will get better is if we put sane, competent people in power.
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.”