How do you turn a symbol of division into a symbol of love? Nick Ramos created Build Hope, Not Walls to answer that question. Instead of using bricks to build walls, he’s invited 150 artists from across the United States to use them as their canvas. All 150 bricks are unique works of art representing the diversity and unique voices that make up American society.
“It’s really important to me that the people I know and love…are represented in the culture,” says playwright Lisa B. Thompson. She creates works from a wide range of genres that all have one thing in common: being unapologetically black. She balances her artistic life with her life as a professor of African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas as well as her life as a mother – all of which feed into and inform one another.
“I looked at the absence of Latino voices as a reason to do what I was doing,” says Adrian Villegas, artistic director of The Latino Comedy Project. Living up to their mission of providing a voice for the Latino community, Adrian and the LCP troupe have been providing audiences with political satire that provoke big laughs and offer insight into societal issues affecting communities of color.
“When I was a youth …, I had no idea that there were any major empires, kingdoms or cities or cultures in Africa,” says Da’Mon Stith, founder of the Guild of the Silent Sword. With the goal of recovering and evolving the lost fighting arts of Africa, Stith created the Guild of the Silent Sword as a way to build community and awaken people’s understanding of African culture. He considers sword play “experimental archaeology” and uses it to feel like part of a larger, human story.
“Hip-hop is the number one form of communication in the world,” says Nook Turner, founder of JumpOnIt. With the goals of community building as his top priority, Turner created JumpOnIt as a different kind of music festival – one that uses hip-hop as a vessel to promote health awareness, entrepreneurism, and community pride.
Leti Garza combines her natural gift of musical talent and personal life experiences to weave together a recurring theme of authenticity in her music. She has the ability to draw from a vast resource of cultures and transform the music into her own while paying homage to the roots from which they were born.
By attending Creative Action’s Continuing Creativity classes, Austin Seniors are able stay involved in the arts, maintain cognitive health and meet new people in the community. The group, mostly comprised of Senior African-Americans of the Chestnut neighborhood, is encouraged to learn new skills and explore a passion they have always wanted to try. Through writing and other creativity stimulating activities, the Seniors of the Continuing Creativity class continue to invigorate their everlasting minds.
Chulita Vinyl Club is an all-female, all-vinyl collective that brings together DJs who share their personal archives of vinyl music in select performances and spaces. The collective was founded in Austin, but has chapters in both Texas and California.
Inspired by everything awkward and sweet, Lauren Briere paints scenes of robots in nature. Each of her paintings is inspired by a human emotion that we’ve all experienced, and reminds us of things we take for granted.
Three Austin, Latino artists: Claudia Aparicio-Gamundi, James Huizar and Claudia Zapata are changing the tradition of art through experience and happenings, not just art.
In 2012, The Puro Chingón Collective was born, which set off to break the traditional art space and aimed it towards the exterior of the art space, resulting in connectivity among the art and bystanders. The collective is a Latino art trifecta specializing in happenings, the activation of nontraditional spaces, designer toys and art zines. Ultimately, the art work goes untouched from the artist to the public and illustrates that people are not alone in their thoughts.