Minneapolis-based artist Ricardo Levins Morales on his craft:
I am an artist/activist…or is it activist/artist? It’s impossible to put one before the other or separate them…I believe that art can contribute to changing people’s perceptions, hearts and understandings of what has been, what is and what’s possible. I’m enough of an organizer to understand that art can’t do it alone; people getting together and acting together is the real source of social change. The dignity and possibility in all people is the underlying message of my work.
I call what I do “medicinal art” (to adapt a phrase from my sister, Aurora). It means that when I work with any community I start with a diagnosis. I ask what it is that keeps this group of people from knowing their power and acting on it. Not what has been done to them but wounds, fears or ways of thought keep folks immobilized. What stories then might be offered, like acupuncture needles placed with precision to free up trapped energy, which can help reveal the possible avenues for collective action.