Artist as Activist: Women's March and Now What?

Yes, I am a revolutionist. All true artists are revolutionists.
— Isadora Duncan, 1877-1927

For me, substituting the word "activist" for "revolutionist" is more comfortable, but hey - the sentiment still holds true!

C. Rasmussen, detail from original painting Superhero | 2014 | Oil, crackle paste & paper on canvas | Original sold, prints available.

Artists are uniquely positioned to be activists. Why? As a visual artist, I could use the cliche - pictures speak louder than words. And I have evidence in the last few days between the compelling posters and the aerial photos of the outpouring of people to the streets for the Women's March, all over the world. I was proud, humbled and uplifted to be one of an estimated 750,000 people at the Los Angeles sister march  - what a breathtaking experience.

Left: Linnea Ficklin & Christine Rasmussen, in pink hat, holding my poster with a play on the Maya Angelou poem (photo by Louise Flores). Right (top): posters designed by Shepard Fairey for The Amplifier Foundation and available for free download here (photo by C. Rasmussen). Right (bottom): crowds on Olive and 5th streets in downtown LA on Jan. 21, 2017 (photo by C. Rasmussen).

Left: Linnea Ficklin & Christine Rasmussen, in pink hat, holding my poster with a play on the Maya Angelou poem (photo by Louise Flores). Right (top): posters designed by Shepard Fairey for The Amplifier Foundation and available for free download here (photo by C. Rasmussen). Right (bottom): crowds on Olive and 5th streets in downtown LA on Jan. 21, 2017 (photo by C. Rasmussen).

But it's more than that. Artists make people feel. They tap into the collective consciousness and pull out the emotions, expressing them in new ways. I think Maya Angelou said it best: 

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
— Maya Angelou, 1928-2014

There is power in that! Today, creatives of all types are coming to grips with this new America, and potentially, a new world order. Words matter more than ever now (as we've seen with the twisting of "facts" and upswell of fake news). Which is why actors, writers, poets and musicians all came out to speak or perform at many of the gatherings around the world. 

Peaceful demonstrators in front of Los Angeles City Hall on Jan. 21, 2017 (Photo by C. Rasmussen). 

Peaceful demonstrators in front of Los Angeles City Hall on Jan. 21, 2017 (Photo by C. Rasmussen). 

I know how to make music. I know how to reach individual hearts and emotions...It’s my job to make everyone feel better in some way.
— Mitski Miyawaki, as quoted in Time Magazine

The above statement was expressed in this Time Magazine article, which interviewed artists of all disciplines about how their art practice is changing in response to this new presidency. Some are putting their art on hold and focusing on activism; others are using their art as activism, while still others are simple trying to make a connection, celebrate diversity, offer comfort, express solidarity. 

Photos by C. Rasmussen & L. Ficklin. Selection of clever posters at the Women's March Los Angeles on Jan. 21, 2017.

Photos by C. Rasmussen & L. Ficklin. Selection of clever posters at the Women's March Los Angeles on Jan. 21, 2017.

So now what? Since last weekend, I've heard so many people say they were uplifted, encouraged and felt less alone.  Let's keep the momentum going! Here are a couple of ideas to do so:

10 Actions/100 Days - Participate in this campaign, a follow-up initiative by the Women's March organizers. 

Get Involved - Join (or start) a group to support and educate each other. If you're in the LA area, feel free to contact me to coordinate something. 

Volunteer at a local organization or for a local candidate/politician. 

Stay informed - more important than ever, and I'll be the first to admit that this will be tough given the fake news, but try to find reliable sources (not just on your Facebook feed) and check the facts. 

Donate art to fundraisers for causes you care about. 

Continue to march - not just for "your" cause, but for all causes. Equality for all.  

At the very least: 

Take your broken heart, make it into art.
— Carrie Fisher, 1956-2016
Poster designed by Shepard Fairey for The Amplifier Foundation (photo by C. Rasmussen).

Poster designed by Shepard Fairey for The Amplifier Foundation (photo by C. Rasmussen).