Described as a visual representation of solidarity, a new virtual, multimedia campaign from Healing Justice Santa Barbara—a countywide, Black-led and Black-centered organizing collective—urges viewers to act with urgency and intention while voting in upcoming local, state, and federal elections.
The primary goal of the project, like the collective’s other initiatives, is to “uplift the most marginalized voices,” Leticia Forney Resch, co-organizer of Healing Justice Santa Barbara, told the Sun.
“This concept came to me after seeing filters on Instagram with ‘vote’ on people’s faces. I immediately thought we could do more. Voting is of the utmost importance right now,” said Forney Resch, who also serves as the creative director behind the new campaign, titled Art is Activism.
A group of models, artists, and photographers contributed their talents to the campaign, and their collaborative photographs will be available to view as static content on the Healing Justice Santa Barbara website, as well as the collective’s social media platforms.
Two painters—Chante Glover, with Copper Raven Studios, and Chelsea Willett, with Chelsea Willett Designs—illustrated representations of key voting issues onto the participating models’ bodies. The installations were documented by Terra Cobian Photography, Michelle Ramirez Photography, and Emily Ritter (with Anna Delores Photography).
“I was lucky enough to have such an outpour of support,” said Forney Resch, who reached out to local artists, models, and other potential collaborators through cold calls and video pitches. “As an organization, creating meaningful collaborations is a priority. Meaningful being: working alongside folks that are allies and accomplices in making change.”
Healing Justice Santa Barbara will also release the Art is Activism photos daily on Instagram and encourage the public to repost them, as part of a grassroots effort to spread awareness of various causes that will be affected by upcoming election results. Key phrases illustrated on models’ bodies include Black Lives Matter, Trans Lives Matter, Abolish ICE, LGBTQI+ Equality Rights, Coronavirus is Real, and MMIWG (missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls).
“In no way were we able to encompass all the humanitarian issues we face in our world and our nation. It is in the works to continue this project to focus on subjects that we were unable to tackle in this particular series,” Forney Resch said.
Her role as co-organizer of Healing Justice Santa Barbara deals mostly with the collective’s arts and culture programming, which operates under a framework that “self-care is not sustainable without community care.”
“Arts and culture are a gift to humanity, allowing us to express our individuality and love for life,” Forney Resch said. “It is a gift to enrich our souls, to embrace the complexity of our history, and welcome old and new neighbors.”
As Healing Justice Santa Barbara, founded by Simone Rushkamp and Krystle Farmer Sigheart, aspires to build resilient communities for marginalized people throughout the Central Coast, joining the collective fulfilled a nearly lifelong urge to confront a lack of diversity, Forney Resch said
“My family has lived in Santa Barbara for generations, and I am proud of my Chumash, Mexican, and African American ancestry, which connects me to the first African Americans in the Santa Barbara region,” Forney Resch said. “I cannot tell you how many times I asked myself growing up, ‘Where is the diversity in my schooling, my industry, and my community?’ I lacked role models that looked like me until I went to college.
“I, in many ways, continue the work of my ancestors who made my work possible,” Forney Resch added. “I will look to uplift the youth in this venture so their voices will be heard. After all, we must think the work we do today will be to enrich others in future generations.”
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