Art is a key means of personal expression for many people. In response to recent state and national events, Ridgewater College has created a community connection on Facebook called “Just Art: Challenging Racism and Promoting Social Justice.”
“Several recent tragedies, including the killing of George Floyd, have caused our communities to come to grips with the ever-present reality that systemic racism and injustice is very real in our society,” explained Ron Ferguson, Ridgewater College sociology instructor. “As an educational institution, we want to unite our students, faculty, staff and communities to engage in conversation on these issues. We see diversity as a strength.”
According to Stacy Griffey, Ridgewater director of equity, inclusion, and student success and diversity officer, "Just Art" is a way for students, faculty, staff and community members to express their thoughts and feelings regarding the killing of George Floyd, and the social unrest that has followed.
"'Just Art’ is a community Facebook page where you’re invited to submit your original art as we move forward and come together," Griffey said. "We want to create a community forum that evolves into a virtual exhibit and performance experience.”
Participants can submit art or simply view and comment. Ideas might include paintings, drawings, sculptures, music, drama or poetry. It may involve photography, videos or dance — whatever media participants are inspired by and capable of submitting online.
Submissions should be respectful and promote awareness, not division, and they should support the relevant guiding principles of Ridgewater College: empowerment, diversity, equity, inclusion, trust and respect. Work should be original.
If participants use another person’s art or words in their work, the participants are responsible for any copyright or intellectual property issues. Participants retain all submission rights, but Ridgewater may contact participants to obtain permission to share work outside of the Facebook page venue.
“It is our hope that we not only express art and appreciate art, but we also unite through art to celebrate our differences and heal from the trauma of systemic racism and social injustices,” said Jehana Schwandt, Ridgewater academic advisor/equity and inclusion specialist.
“This is a great way for all of us to come together as one community to show our support for equity and justice through artistic expression," said Craig Johnson, Ridgewater president. "Throughout history, art has been a powerful vehicle for social change, and I’m excited to see how our area artists express their view of our current social issues.”
For more information or to join the group, go to ridgewater.edu/just-art.