The Daily Tar Heel

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Thursday June 30th

Join the discussion on social justice with Art&Life and the CEF

Anthony Sharp is one of the featured artists in the CEF Art Show. Photo by Jon Young.
Buy Photos Anthony Sharp is one of the featured artists in the CEF Art Show. Photo by Jon Young.

Art&Life and the Community Empowerment Fund (CEF) will infuse social justice into art with a tour, art show and performance this Saturday. 

“We've got people making paintings, people quilting, amazing sculptures, poetry, spoken word, soap making, jewelry making, drawing — you name it, there’s somebody doing it at this show,” said Connie Longmate, an advocate and artist from the Community Empowerment Fund. 

The event will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., with the Social Justice Tour taking place in the Ackland Museum and the Art Show in the Campus Y. It will encompass a variety of stigmatized issues and showcase artists who have faced these hardships. 

“The Campus Y and campus in general is a place that a lot of these people historically have been excluded from, so you see this as a really great community building event and a chance to share what these people who have been overlooked have to offer,” Longmate said. 

The UNC Campus is currently decorated with art pieces in commemoration of Arts Everywhere, and the upcoming art show will be an opportunity to reinforce the involvement of the arts in everyday life. 

Longmate said the artists performing are empowered by the injustices they have faced in their lives. By infusing the aspects of social justice and art, the show hopes to create empathy with an emphasis on acknowledging that everyone has their own personal and unique struggles. 

“(Art&Life) is a Campus Y organization that teaches art history with a studio art component at local middle and high schools, and we make our curriculum more than 50 percent non-Western or art from marginalized communities," said Annie Kiyonaga, the co-chair of Art&Life and Daily Tar Heel columnist. "We think art history is a hugely important way of learning about ourselves. So often art history is focused on Western European canon. We try to broaden that scope.”

Art can often feel like a deeply intimate and personal action that is off-limits to the public. By displaying and discussing the pains and sorrows many of these artists felt in creating their artwork, the show seeks to incorporate social justice into the discussion and make emotions perceptible to the public eye. The discussions at the Ackland are intended to explore the status quo and question why things are the way they are.

Marsela Hughes, a junior at UNC, creates spoken word poetry. She said that coming to UNC was the first time she learned about different cultures and identities. 

"It is possible to see the oppression of women on a smaller scale, as a microcosm of the oppression of women in larger society," Hughes said. "So I think a lot of injustices that face women — face minorities in the nation — exist here on this campus. But UNC provides a place where we can talk about them, and we can see them and respond to them.”

The art show and tour will be an opportunity for individuals to come together and discuss these issues they face on a daily basis. By attending this event, individuals may find an avenue to display their art with the community formed by the CEF. 

"We have an amazing community and we have some really talented artists," Longmate said. "I’d really love for people to learn more about the Community Empowerment Fund, and I want people to enjoy a beautiful day and see some nice art.”


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