Being a celebration of life, Art is the most intimate relationship human being can establish with life….It lives it CRITICALLY and transforms CREATIVELY..!!
Art for social change is an age old contention that has demonstrated its power of encompassing human life in its entirety. As the most accessible and effective means of communication, art upon all aspects of human life from birth to death. It encircles an individual’s dreams, aspirations, struggle, fears, sorrows, fears, nightmares, happiness, failures and achievements in a given historic period and transforms this experience into humanized objects. This in turn establishes a dialogue with society.
The urge of furthering this universal dialogue has brought a group of 17 pakistani artist to a 10 day customized creative exchange, called Community Engagement through the Arts Pakistanin. Organised by Meridian International Center in collaboration with the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad and the Phillips Collection, the Exchange program acknowledges art as an agent of change. It is developed around the themes of activism through art, social engagement, professional development, engagement with American artists and presentation of the work collaborative work in the US and the images produced in Pakistan in an earlier workshop conducted by Rachel Goldberg.
The program also focuses on how art can engage community to discuss social issues of importance to the local DC community. The visiting artists met with local activists, discussed ways and means of turning ideas and needs into artistic projects for a local farmer’s market.
The artists explored methods of engaging various levels of society in the arts and the use of art to promote social engagement and change at grassroots level. They engaged in collaborative exercises and activities for developing artist’s professional presentation skills.
The visiting artists were engaged in a series of workshops, lectures, site visits, museum visits to share models of artistic engagement and public participation in arts. The program has brought people from diverse cultures and artistic exposure to benifit from this exchange and to enhance their skills of artistic engagement with society.
The visiting artists as a result have expanded their professional networks and have opened up avenues for future artistic exchanges with their US counterparts and with each other.
Workshop at Takoma Education Centre,
The visit to a beautiful school and working with 6 graders was very gratifying, as Young boys and girls showed genuine concern about their surroundings and presented themselves as keen contributors to the efforts of bringing positive social change.
My interviews with Voice of America were also useful as I tried to share my understanding of art as an agent of change with the media and spoke about the wonderful experience and how it relates to and reinforces our efforts in Pakistan.
Mural and video for FOOD JUSTICE at Mount Pleasant
Today the group painted a mural as a collaborative community engagement project. The project was lead by Mathieu, a local artist, the mural had input from the visiting artistsand visitors at the Farmer’s market. It reflected the understanding, our group had developed during visits, workshops and presentations given by Jess Solomon and Ms Laura Shweder Biel of DC Green and Carina Gervacio of Brainfood.
We also filmed footage for a video installation. Brief comments by the DC green volunteers, farmers, their customers, artists and performers were recorded which are going to be edited for a short video installation. The overall composition of the installation will resemble the mural. Jess Solomon, the Art in Praxis Director and Christylez Bacon, a progressive Hip-Hop artist contributed their performing art skills to the video as a culmination point of the workshop on community engagement for social change conducted by Jess.The conference” The Power of Culture/The culture of Power” will bring professionals together to share their views on the subject. I am also going to be part of a panel discussion…
In Conversation: Citizen Artistry: Engaging through the Arts Thinking about my participation in tomorrow’s conference topic, “Engaging through the Arts” with Pierre Dulaine, Rachel Goldberg and Ann Stock and thinking of formulating my thoughts about it, I had to refer to art as a necessity. The contention is reinforced by Erich Fromm when he refers to man being born with aloneness and this undying urge of combating it in order to become part of the whole. As a necessity, art has to be more then a tool or a vehicle for facilitating social change in a community, neighborhood or a ward where it relies on support from community leaders, volunteers and official decision makers. It on the contrary looks more like a sensibility that stems out of the creative and critical relationship an individual establishes with his/her surrounding. Which broadens the sphere of art and artists and in that sense every individual aiming to play a role in life as a productive being would be an artist and what ever he contributes to life is art.