It is my belief that actions always speak louder than words. I have noticed since the boom of social media participation that many more people have gotten behind causes, but not really. This half in, half out trend I find very disheartening. Many people believe they are activists, humanitarians, and patrons of justice by merely voicing an opinion. They believe that by clicking a button, sharing an article, or being informed that they are doing their part to battle the wrongs of the world. I find this deeply alarming and a sad trend. Action, this is what changes the course of injustice, poverty, lack of education, war, and other atrocities. One must take on a roll of engaging with the problem, not simply nodding their head and pumping their fists in disdain.
I have always believed as an artist it is one of my moral obligations to better humanity to the best of my abilities. Throughout my career as an artist, although not a lucrative one, I have found creative ways to give back to the world and share my talent with the world. I have a few core beliefs that I always try and help with. One is keeping Art in children's lives. I believe we evolve as a species by embracing and nurturing imagination, creativity, and Art. Through it's practice a world is opened to a child's eyes. It gives them confidence, allows them to visualize their dreams, and often times teaches them concepts which they cannot grasp through other more "standard" forms of learning. I say this because this is how I learned I can expand my knowledge ten fold through relationships of different subjects and how they intermingle with art. Math, Science, History, Physics, and writing were all opened to me because of my love of Art. It wasn't until I was an adult that I fully realized the depth of my intelligence.
I was lucky enough as a child to have a mentor that taught me the world through the lens of Art and my talent. She taught me for twelve years from the ages of six to eighteen and to this day every Saturday I pop in to class and help teach the kids like she taught me. It is this mentoring that always harbored the idea to give back and how much of a difference it can make in one's life. I have donated a scholarship to under privileged youth to attend the same academy that taught me. I have also worked with various other organizations, some I donated art to raise money for battered women's shelters, painted chairs to be auctioned to raise money for Big Brothers/ Big Sisters, volunteered my time in the violent south-side Chicago area painting pianos with kids, and many other charities. These are the fundamental areas that I personally find close to my heart children, women, the Arts, Music, and education. Find something close to you and take action.
In this 21st century of everybody in touch with everything it is insane how out of touch we are with are own humanity. People feel like screaming their opinion at the top of their lungs via social media outlets is doing something, participating. It is not. Action needs to be taken, time needs to be invested, interaction and involvement need to be paid. If the situation is as dire as you plead then get your hands dirty and stop yelling at me to participate... I am too busy trying to make changes in the world myself. People need to get of their high horses and soap boxes and join the rest of us in the trenches. It's not easy, nor is it supposed to be. Change is difficult, failure is always a possibility, and most likely a high probability. This doesn't mean one should merely throw in the towel and give up before even starting. This is a problem I see way too often in America. Everyone thins they will have no impact. Untrue, one person's live is changed for the better because of you then that in itself is a world of difference... Don't believe me, ask that person you helped.
These ideas have been circulating in my head as I try and figure out a way to have a social impact with my fashions. So, I have developed this idea that I will be exploring more, but I have decided that I am developing a line of leggings inspired by American football teams. There has been this systemic viral cult of promoting inequalities among genders, degrading women, and lack of value placed on women in general. This is trickling down into our general society promoting a rape culture which I find disgraceful and disgusting in the United States. Now, I could preach about this all day long until my face turns blue, but that isn't going to change anything. My answer, to develop a way that a portion of proceeds from sales of this line will go towards specific accredited charities which I have researched through www.charitywatch.org and other sites to cross check the legitimacy of organizations.
When people purchase a pair of these specific leggings $10 from every purchase will go towards 1 of 4 pre-selected charities for women or children or a charity of their selection. Now, this isn't much; but I believe it is more than me, just jumping on social media and ranting about how upsetting it is. How can a sport just disregard the importance of punishing their athletes for such horrible acts towards women and children. That does nothing to solve the problem or provide means to a solution. This isn't a huge issue in the National Football League. Only a fractional segment of the athletes participate in such atrocities, but there should be a zero tolerance policy for domestic abuse against women and children by the industry...
So, this is how I plan on taking action. In the future it is my plan to involve social awareness of issues through fashion whether it be donating profits or directly making clothing based on such issues. It is my belief that this is not only the obligation of ALL artists, but should be a priority of all businesses, governing bodies, and people... Why, because it's the humane thing to do, the moral thing to do, and most importantly the right thing to do.
So, before anyone casts a stone or tries to shame someone for their wrong doing. Take a look at yourself, a good look. Think about your life, what you believe, what you feel strongly about, and if you have done nothing in terms of action to prevent your core beliefs from being offended. Then maybe it is because of your inability to contribute to the betterment of humanity that are world is in dismay.
Here at Art Fort 321 I will not only speak out, but will continue to be a part of the communities in which I live. I will donate my time, my art, and finances in order to make this world better then when I got here. This is a promise I made to myself a long time ago... Maybe it's time for you to do the same.
The Urban Monk