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Creating Change: How Local Artists Use Their Craft for Social Justice

POSTED February 14, 2024 IN: Community

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As Evergreen Goodwill celebrates Black History Month, we are drawing inspiration from the theme “Art as a Platform for Social Justice,” identified by the National Museum of African American History & Culture for 2024. There is a rich tapestry of African American history and culture, particularly within our region.

The artists spotlighted below have made significant contributions to addressing social justice issues through their art. Their work is a reminder of creativity’s transformative power in advancing equality, understanding, and change. As you all celebrate Black History we encourage you to read on and learn more about these artists.

Photo: [Christopher M. Ochs]

Artists in Activism, a nonprofit based in Marysville, WA, emerged in response to the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder in 2020, aiming to foster community advancement for underrepresented groups through artistic expression. Operating in a town where only 2.8% of residents are Black, they provide a vital safe space for marginalized individuals and social justice advocates. Recognizing the scarcity of resources and organizations addressing systemic racism, the organization launched Think Ideas, envisioning a multimedia community center to empower people through education and creativity. Collaborating with local officials, law enforcement, and community members, they seek to amplify marginalized voices and effect meaningful change. In contrast to the sporadic violence seen in some protests, Artists in Activism offers a unique approach, uniting artists to peacefully protest through their creative mediums, as evidenced by their ongoing gatherings in Marysville, Washington.

Photo: [Marita Dingus]

Marita Dingus, is an artist known for her sculptures made from discarded materials, offering a commentary on society’s consumption and waste while highlighting the need for environmental stewardship. In today’s climate of heightened awareness surrounding racial injustices and environmental degradation, Dingus’s work resonates profoundly, reminding viewers of the interconnectedness between social justice and environmental activism. Her figures, adorned with repurposed materials like brightly colored buoys and corrugated PVC pipes, stand tall on her wooded property in Auburn, showcasing a fusion of creativity and sustainability. Despite her acclaim, Dingus remains committed to using art as a catalyst for change, continually sourcing materials from thrift shops and donations. Through her art, Dingus encourages viewers to reflect on society’s impact on marginalized communities and the planet, inspiring action towards a more equitable and sustainable future.

Photo [Wonder of Women Instagram, Naomi Wachira]
Veronica Very Davis, a Seattle native resident, is the visionary CEO of Wonder of Women International (WOW), a nonprofit empowering Black women and girls through storytelling and art. With a focus on healing racial traumas and promoting self-love, Veronica’s work has impacted communities both locally and globally since WOW’s establishment in 2016. WOW’s mission to build a state-of-the-art Black love art sanctuary and cultural institute that provides space for renewal, holistic healing, hospitality, agricultural, and lifelong learning that centers Black stories and culture has resonated with thousands. WOW plans to establish retreat centers celebrating Black ancestral culture in America and Africa. Through her dedication to storytelling and art, Veronica continues to inspire change and renewal within marginalized communities.

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