At herARTS in Action, we see art as a tool for social change and engagement. We use art to educate on water and other social topics, and make a special effort to reach out to people of color, lower income status and various abilities to increase their exposure to the visual arts. This is accomplished through art exhibitions, artist residencies, celebrity art auctions and art sales.
Our founder, Sarah Drake, is currently creating an art series called, Beyond 28 days and MLK.
About the exhibition in Sarah's words:
Although I’ve been a painter and mixed media artist for many years, because of health issues, I took up paper collage in November 2016. As such, I’m still learning this new technique and what it means to me as a creator, but already know I prefer ripping paper to cutting. At first I ripped because it was easier on my pained body, but then it became cathartic. What I found was that the rips began to have representation; I was tearing away at the layers of the issues I talk about in my artwork like racism, water and sanitation access, and women’s rights. Once torn, the paper became like puzzle pieces of rebuilding and restructuring into an aesthetic that imagines what could be if these issues didn’t exist. However, even when we dismantle the many facets of institutional racism and socioeconomic exploitation, things aren’t smooth and pretty. There are still scars of the past, which the rugged look of ripped paper in my artwork represents.
When I was invited to exhibit artwork at Whitney Senior Center and CentraCare- St Joseph in December 2017-February 2018, I began to wonder what I’d create. Whitney hosts the annual Kwanzaa celebration, and MLK Jr Day and Black History Month occur during the exhibition, all of this coupled with the new realization about my paper ripping, I was inspired to create a body of artwork about African and African American women. The goal was to show black women from our community in artwork, positively without stereotypes, and the impact they are making in my life and lives of others.
The exhibition inspired an expansion of the work, and I decided to create pieces over one year that tell stories of our often overlooked, unseen, misunderstood, misrepresented, black women who have trusted me with their stories. It then grew to included not only women from central MN, but Burkina Faso and celebrity black women who work for social justice. It was important that the work exhibit in addition to the December-February shows, because they need to be seen beyond a designated day or month. Once a show at the Paramount was confirmed, I grew the series to include men based on inspirations from Colin Kaepernick taking a knee, police and gun violence, and other issues that plague black men and the amazing ways they are countering by fostering the black youth in our community.
This series is a learning opportunity for the viewer to see people in our community through my eyes, perspectives and lived experiences. I hope viewers leave inspired to take action against discrimination, having learned something about our diverse and beautiful community, and remember the beautiful contributions black people give to our lives everyday, not just during Black History Month or on MLK Day. If you attend the exhibitions in person, you will notice that there are not prices listed under the name of the person in the pieces. It was a reminder of slaves being sold, so there is statement that includes the cost of the work, which are all the same price.
These are just a few of the paper collage pieces in the series.
Sarah also creates artwork inspired by the Wend-Kouni Water & Sanitation Project. If you purchase artwork featured here, 25% of the sale will be donated to herARTS in Action. Click on each photo for details about the artwork. Our store is in development, so please email us about purchasing at email@example.com.