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Last Tuesday, 25 artists came together at Cheer Up Charlie’s Bar to brainstorm how to resist SB4 through creativity and artistic expression. The Artist Happy Hour event was part of Basta Texas, a joint campaign between Jolt and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network that seeks to fight against the racist SB4 law before it goes into effect on September 1, 2017. Through Basta Texas, we’ve been resisting hate through community organizing, educating people about their rights, and engaging with politics.

Alto Arizona Poster by Shepard Fairey and Ernesto Yerena

But we need art and culture to breathe life into this movement. After all, resistance isn’t just about policy: in order to create real change, we need to move people emotionally. “Resistance art is a creative force that tells a powerful story of struggle, triumph and inspiration,” said filmmaker Chelsea Hernández, one of the event’s hosts. “It’s a unique and accessible way to send a message to the masses, highlighting the effects of social injustice or political turmoil. Today, resistance art can do even more than what it has done in the past. This type of art can cross the aisle of the political divide, sharing stories with communities that may not be aware of the individual struggles in this country.”

Indeed, artistic expression generated huge momentum for Alto Arizona, the campaign that brought an end to Arizona’s SB1070 “Show-Me-Your-Papers” law. The success of Alto Arizona— along with the countless other historical examples of art galvanizing resistance– inspired us to create community and power through protest art with the Artist Happy Hour.

“When I take photos I am very aware of the kind of images that I am creating. It’s the photos of people coming together, holding hands and sharing that I want to capture. That’s what I want to do with my medium: to say ‘this is important. This isn’t a joke. This affects my family.'” -Leandra Blei, Photographer

To kick off the event, we heard from Jolt Director Cristina Tzintzún and the event’s four hosts — musician Gina Chavez, visual artist Claudia Aparicio-Gamundi, filmmaker Chelsea Hernandez and photographer Leandra Blei — on why we need creativity to fight back against racism and hate.

Chelsea Hernández, Gina Chávez and Claudia Aparicio Gamundi address the crowd

The artists then broke up by medium to brainstorm ways to uplift stories of resistance around SB4. When the entire group reconvened, incredible ideas emerged, from a collaborative exhibit showcasing images of protest to a mobile storytelling unit that chronicles the everyday fight against the racist law.

“Resistance means not giving up. It means standing up: not only for you but also for those around you that might not be able to.” – Claudio Aparicio Gamundi, Visual Artist

Leandra Blei leads the group of visual artists in a brainstorming session

The Artist Happy Hour created incredible momentum thanks to the innovation of the artists who came; stay tuned for the projects that will emerge. But this was just the beginning.

Now, we need you to join us in the fight against SB4 by speaking out through your art. Visit the Basta Texas webpage and use the resistance art feature to submit your own creative acts of protest.

Together, we can give voice and power to this movement.

 

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