Art and activism (artivism) were a key feature of the second day of SpunOut's Women's Academy.
How do you get a campaign going that draws attention, expresses your voice, and gets people thinking? Niamh Heery demonstrated to the room that art is the outlet. One of the benefits of using art to draw attention to something meaningful, as Heery said, is that it includes others; it enables a cross over of the threshold by thinking about it differently, and it can start the conversation. Starting the conversation is an important piece in getting people thinking.
So the group set to work, dividing into three groups, to create art that meant something to them: mental health, reproductive rights, and the representation of women in media. But an essential part of using art to express an opinion is to share it, and so they did.
From Temple Bar to Grafton Street, the three groups shared their artwork to invoke conversation. They asked people to participate, to share their opinions, and to listen to their own. Many people walked past, not all uncomfortable, some just busy during the workday. But many were intrigued by the art, curious by the message, and stopped to see what was going on. They exchanged ideas and expressed the matters that were most important to them.
When the groups returned they were empowered and ready to learn from the next speaker, who was Patricia Kennedy. Kennedy talked about pushing the boundaries, and she encouraged the academy to push their own by standing up in front of each other and partaking in drama. Some were in their element, and some were uncomfortable, but they all participated, stepping out of their comfort zones.
This was part of Kennedy’s lesson: pushing past your comfort zone is necessary to make change.
Kennedy urged: “Don’t take the slammed door as an answer, you have to push back.” It’s a piece of advice that all could benefit from.