Whether or not we are cognizant of our place in the teeming, streaming, tangled, living, swelling swampy mass of human evolution/history, we are it. It is us.
Community exists. We impact and depend on each other. To thrive we need to learn from one another, our past mistakes, and accomplishments.
Activism is a conscious acknowledgement of our connection. The assertion of our bond. It is an affirmative choice. It says Yes! to the world, to ourselves and each other.
Yes! We can make a difference.
Yes! We can grow.
Yes! Everyone matters.
It comes from the heart, from a place of hope.
ARRT! and LumenARRT! were born from the acknowledgement that we are connected. This is the heart of community.
As artists, what we have to offer is our passion, skill and focus. We receive many gifts in return which are perhaps unique for each of us. Art and collaboration both afford access to the creative realm, which is nourishing in itself. Problem solving and designing together has taught us new ways of approaching issues and helped us to fashion a practice that fosters listening and exposes us to new ways of doing things. We learn from each other and find joy in the process.
In a world where we face what seem to be insurmountable problems, suffering and injustice, we can dive in and work for what matters to us. This is the greatest gift.
ARRTists and LumenARRTists add their images and voices:
Christine J. Higgins
I have participated in ARRT! for almost nine years now.
Collaboration is what first drew me to this organization. Working with other artists in the brainstorming and planning of a banner, painting together–arms even overlapping sometimes—and the process of group critiquing is an enriching experience. Making art with other practicing artists forces me to stretch my communication skills, let go of preconceived notions, and listen with thoughtfulness and flexibility. At ARRT! we leave egos behind and work, mutually supportive, towards a common goal—to help progressive non-profits represent their mission in a visual message.
ARRT! is also about the organizations. Here, I can support many organizations, and learn so much about the important work other people are doing in this state. Sometimes organizations such as Maine Inside Out (former inmates at Long Creek) come and work with us, or we go directly to them, as we did a few years ago at the Lewiston Somali Bantu Center. We listen and try to incorporate their suggestions as well.
Natasha Mayers, the behind-the scenes extraordinary organizer said to me when I first started, “You will be tired, but it is a good tired.” Yes, indeed.
I am sending three images which I hope will reflect my sentiments. The first image reflects my working with Brown Lethem, Suzanna Laske,r and Peg Mascher on a banner for WILP’s Women’s Power to Stop War campaign. Our ARRT! collaboration was quite challenging and enjoyable. It was ultimately very gratifying to see our banner take on a life of its own. I met a young activist at the Peaceworks Fair in Brunswick named Santanu Mayfield who was very engaged with the banner. His enthusiasm and curiosity assured me that indeed there is hope for our future.
Painting sessions with ARRT! are always creative, collaborative, and colorful (literally as well as metaphorically). The process, like the product, is full of humor, helpfulness, high energy, and warmth of heart.
I value the sessions I’ve painted and the people I’ve painted with. A great institution!
Image at top: ARRT! banners and placards in action at the Women’s March, Portland, 2020.