Amina Doherty on “The activist artist…”

Throughout (her)story and across our diverse cultures and backgrounds the arts have always played a significant role in shaping our identities. Pervading every aspect of our lives – our languages, our music, our dances, our poetry, our rituals, our celebrations and our struggles. The power of our artistic fiyah is undeniable. As feminists and as activists we use art to reflect our lives and experiences, to build consciousness and in many instances to share our political messages and stories.

I have always been fascinated by the particular art form that is sometimes referred to as ‘protest art.’ While quite broad, this art form is often associated with the signs and banners used in demonstrations, marches, and public rallies. I suppose what I love most about this particular artform are the ways in which it challenges mainstream ideas of ‘good art’ and the opportunities it provides for women to become engaged as artists regardless of age, education, colour, class or social background.  I especially love the ways in which it builds solidarity and sistren connections as women take to the streets to advocate for the issues that mean the most for their lives.

This month, as sisters across the continent and dawtas across the diaspora prepare to celebrate the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day and International Women’s History Month, it is truly fascinating to witness the creative ways that women are using art to speak up for themselves and in very unassuming ways showcasing their talent and creativity.  And so, I wonder how are you as a feminist and an artist are using your own art to drive change? Whether it is designing a logo, or a poster, creating a cartoon, being part of a tapestry, or signing a banner to support a particular campaign – how are you getting involved?

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