Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Clothesline Project

When thinking of Conscious Art, The Clothesline Project is probably in my Top 5. This art project started in 1990 with women expressing their emotions regarding violence against women. The shirts are hung on a clothesline in public to give voice and raise consciousness regarding this problem. The shirts are different colors, depending on the type of violence. For example, a blue shirt on the clothesline would represent a woman who is a survivor of incest or sexual abuse, a yellow t-shirt represents a woman who has been assaulted or battered, and white represents a woman who has died because of violence, etc.  This project has grown to a national level and any community can begin a clothesline project and start raising awareness and fostering healing in their community. I like this project because of its message, availability to the public (space-wise, money-wise, and concept-wise), and opportunity to offer a voice and healing to those affected by injustice and violence.  It's simple and affordable, but powerful.

I really liked this idea so I adapted it for an art project with my 8th graders last year. They created shirts to show how violence has affected their lives. We had red to represent sexual violence, orange for gang violence, green for personal violence (self-mutilation, suicidal ideation, etc), yellow for cultural violence (violence in the media, video games, etc), grey for emotional violence (i.e. bullying, intimidation), and black for students who knew someone who had died due to violence. Many of my students were affected by several types of violence, but chose one area to reflect on and speak up about. The t-shirts were hung on hangers on a "clothesline" in the cafeteria, where their voice could be heard and consciousness raised. 

Before coming to Chicago for my Masters in Social Work, I considered a masters in Art Therapy. I love that I am able to combine my passion for social justice issues with art and healing. I think there is endless potential...and hopefully this blog will help me look into those possibilities even more!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Art for Sale!!!

My family and friends have been telling me for years that I should sell some of my art. My beaded necklaces and paintings are particularly popular. At the urgings of my husband, I began beading some necklaces a few weeks ago and he helped my set up this blog and an Etsy account (a site for selling handmade arts). I am not a computer/tech person AT ALL, so bear with me as I navigate the blog world! I posted a link to my Etsy page on the right hand side (hopefully you see it)!  Also, please excuse my poor camera and terrible photography skills...I'll work on this as well. : /

Monday, February 16, 2009

Conscious Beginnings...

 My mom says that I have always loved to create art since I was old enough to hold a crayon. Others ask me how I became interested in social justice issues, especially growing up in a small farming town with virtually no diversity. I really don't know, but I do remember art inspiring me to explore these issues. The first time I remember being conscious of different cultures and truly exploring the divide between people of different races, ethnicities, and nationalities was with an art project my freshman year in high school. I don't even remember what the project was supposed to be, but I painted people of all different backgrounds, huddled together, surrounded by goldish-brown protective arms. When I think back on this painting, I think that I was probably processing what little experience I had with different cultures. 

I was very aware of my Norwegian background...I went to Norwegian camp and learned the arts, crafts, songs, and dances, and we always had Norwegian desserts during Christmas. I also remember that two of my closest friends in elementary school were from different backgrounds and I was very hurt whenever someone made fun of my friends because of their clothes, food, hair, etc. I also remember that, besides these 2 friends, the other few students of color in school were all adopted by white families. I remember hearing racist jokes growing up and feeling very uncomfortable, but feeling that I should laugh. No one ever talked to us about these kind of issues, but I managed to process it somewhat on my own, through art. 

In college, when I was surrounded by an even greater diverse group of people (religiously, sexually, ability-wise, etc) much of my artwork my sophomore year of college also explored these issues. I think art is a great medium to use to bring awareness and educate people. Art draws people in and asks them questions about themselves and the world without needing an answer back.

Ultimately, I would love to be paid to create conscious art with youth, in order to promote change in their communities. I will be using this blog to explore the different ways that art can be use to foster dialogue, raise awareness, and ignite change.