By Deon C. Jefferson
Art can be used to communicate a number of different things. The marriage between art and activism has been on full display, especially after the way the world was treated in 2020. In Broward County, artists like Niki Lopez and the LA Lee Mizell YMCA Community Center have partnered together to host a series of sessions affectionately named “The Art-Making as Catalyst for Social Justice and Collective Action”.
Highlights for the program include but are not limited to social justice geared presentations, artist-led workshops across literary, visual, and performing arts. The Art of Justice Session is definitely something you don’t want to miss.
This project invites and encourages the community to engage with several talented local artists whose passion for activism and outreach informs their creative work and the creative process. There have been quite a few sessions already, with one planned for next Saturday. For the upcoming workshop, artist Alana Dacosta will be the facilitator. Artist Alana Dacosta considers herself to be a creative rebel. She uses a variety of mediums to express her art. She is a vocalist, musician, creative community builder, yogi, educator, and phenomenal mother. They will focus on what “agency” means and how to think critically about the world to develop their agency. It is asked that you come with supplies. Items needed to bring are paper, scissors, glue, a magazine to cut from, pencil, markers or paint. Alana will start the session at 1:00 p.m. and it ends at 3:00 p.m. The workshop will be virtual.
This is the first time Lopez is collaborating with the LA Lee YMCA. “LA Lee YMCA is one of the organizations that serves an underserved, predominately Black/ POC community and one of the organizations I’ve done several arts and community projects with over the years, ‘’ says Lopez. “As a multi-disciplined visual artist, curator and social practitioner, the intentions of this project aligns fully and draws from elements – What’s Your Elephant. This is a movement I founded back in 2014 that uses the arts to create safe spaces to address the unspoken. Because of that work and other works I’ve done, the LA Lee YMCA invited me to be the lead artist in this project that is funded by The Community Foundations of Broward’s Art of Community Grant and The Art of Justice program was birthed. The main focus of the program is Social Justice. Though this program is open to all, to me, Social justice is working with underserved communities (and) giving a voice to their concerns. I’m honored to create a program that showcases how the arts can be a catalyst for social justice, community building and self-expression.”
Programming and advocacy work is nothing new to “What’s your Elephant”. They create safe spaces for people to utilize the arts to have healthy dialogue, heal and to bring awareness to the unspoken. By way of exhibitions, visual and performing arts, interactive arts, creative community building, hands-on projects, talks, workshops, and events.
Established in 1984, the Community Foundation of Broward assists families, individuals and organizations to produce personalized charitable Funds that deliver game-changing philanthropic impact. Altogether, Four hundred and seventy-nine charitable funds represent more than $200 million in assets, distributing $131 mil-lion in grants over the past 36 years. The Community Foundation supplies bold leadership on community solutions and fosters philanthropy that connects people who care with causes that matter. The Foundation empowers visionaries, innovators and doers to create the change they want to see in the community – and to BE BOLD. www.cfbroward.org
Support for this project has been provided by the following Funds at the Community Foundation of Broward: Oakland Park Woman’s Club, David and Francie Horvitz Family Fund, Ann Adams Fund and the Mary and Alex Mackenzie Impact Fund.
For more info on how you can join the next session, visit https://whatsyourelephant.org/theartofjustice/