Art And Activism

Scarlett Jane

By Scarlett Jane
SAM TAC 2022-23

Art binds us all. Some may say it makes us human. When fear and hate separate us, art can be used to increase knowledge and bring us back together.

Art and advocacy have always been connected. Historically, the Guerrilla Girls, a group of feminist artists, were known to be a strong proponent of this. Some organizations use art to preserve culture, including the Palestine Heritage Foundation, focused on traditional Palestinian garments; the Mamook Tokatee, an affordable housing and studio space for Indigenous American artists; and the Garifuna Women’s Project, who released an album to spread awareness about the Garifuna people’s unique culture of music.

Guerilla Girls
Via the Palestinian Heritage Foundation
Portland, Oregon
Two musicians from the Garifuna Women’s Project, via NPR
The connection between art and advocacy has been a long-held personal interest of mine. It can be really important and engaging for young people to get involved with this. The Planned Parenthood magazine, Naked Truth, and Sarasota Students 4 Climate, are both great local organizations that encourage this. One of my favorite things about Sarasota Art Museum is the opportunity to view the artist expressing their unique views and experiences. The Ladd Brothers’ focus on community engagement was a hugely fun and important experience for the community. Xaviera Simmons gives poignant and thoughtful commentary on American chattel slavery and reparations through her sculptural work. Past pieces have also included Katrina Coombs fiber works, some personal favorites of mine, centered around womanhood, motherhood, and Jamaican culture; Daniel Lind Ramos’ commentary on the aftermath of Hurricane Maria; Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ untitled candy spill piece is a deeply personal and emotional piece on the AIDS crisis.
Steven and William Ladd: Lead With a Laugh
Installation view of Steven and William Ladd: Lead With a Laugh

Photo: Ryan Gamma

Xaviera Simmons, The structure the labor the foundation the escape the pause (2020) Steel, wood, concrete, and acrylic, in three parts: a. 17 × 4 × 12 ft.; b. 14.8 ft. × 10 in. × 7.5 ft.; c. 12.5 × 9 × 26 ft. Courtesy of the Artist, Socrates Sculpture Park, and David Castillo, Miami, Photo: Ryan Gamma
Xaviera Simmons, The structure the labor the foundation the escape the pause (2020)
Steel, wood, concrete, and acrylic
in three parts: a. 17 × 4 × 12 ft.; b. 14.8 ft. × 10 in. × 7.5 ft.; c. 12.5 × 9 × 26 ft.

Courtesy of the artist and David Castillo, Miami; Originally commissioned by Socrates Sculpture Park, New York, with support from the Ford Foundation
Photo: Ryan Gamma

Installation view of Katrina Coombs, "I M(O)ther: Threads of the Maternal Figure" , Photo: Ryan Gamma
Installation view of Katrina Coombs, Oshun's Glory, 2020, Finger-knitted mixed fibers, Dimensions variable

Courtesy of the artist
Photo: Ryan Gamma

María de los Sustentos 2020-2021 Assemblage 121 x 91 x 42 in. Collection of David Cancel, Photo: Ryan Gamma
María de los Sustentos
2020-2021
Assemblage
121 x 91 x 42 in.

Collection of David Cancel
Photo: Ryan Gamma

Installation view of Felix Gonzalez-Torres' "Untitled" (L.A.), Photo: Ryan Gamma
Installation view of Felix Gonzalez-Torres' "Untitled" (L.A.)

Photo: Ryan Gamma

Change and awareness can be pushed forward by artists expressing their experiences and ideas. Spaces for this expression are beautiful and necessary.