The Crux of Socially Engaged Art and Nonviolence
by Peter Dickson
As I engaged with the art project, I was reminded of the civil rights song, “We shall overcome.” Social progress occurs when people unite. Our project allowed different communities to become that “we,” with a shared vision. The different groups that came together to help food insecure families were Spelman College, Atlanta Print Makers, Southwest Airlines, Wren’s Nest, Wholesome Wave, Emory University, Atlanta Streets Alive, and the West End community.
Each of these actors played a unique and indispensable role in this socially engaged art project. Socially engaged artwork must strive to bring to the table relevant actors because social engagement is not an isolated act, but a communal expression.
For me, socially engaged art depicts a tenet of nonviolence, “the Beloved Community as the framework for the future.” The beloved community is simply the idea that through mutual aid and communal support, communities can come together to eradicate social problems. This project embodied this principle of the Beloved Community by bringing together groups to eradicate a social ill, food insecurity.
My role within the project was as its hands and feet. I designed a stencil that was printed on shirts and bags at the Wren’s Nest to raise support and awareness for Wholesome Wave’s EBT and SNAP program. Their program doubles the dollars at local farmers markets for people who have an EBT or SNAP card. At the Wren’s Nest, my group interacted with the West End’s community during the Atlanta Streets Alive event. We printed about 400-500 free shirts for the community. Each shirt had a design that a person within the group designed.
As a foot soldier for this project, it was a privilege for me to witness different communities coming together to help food-insecure families. We were able to spread the good news of Wholesome Wave empower residents to intervene on the behalf of their underserved neighbors.
Within Georgia, More than 1.9 million people are in need of governmental assistance for food. I do not understand the different factors within Georgia’s social system that would cause more than 10 percent of the state’s population to require government subsidies for basic sustenance. What I do know is that this deficit is a communal and systemic pathology. Its resolution, accordingly, can only be formulated and implemented when communities and sectors of society collaborate with each other in a manner that ensures mutual understanding and accountability.
Quote from http://www.thekingcenter.org/king-philosophy
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