Life and Arts

Power of Creative Expression

Artists Dismantling Capitalism offers alternatives for social issues

Artists who work on creative thought are also in a unique space to participate in society-making and critique and change when necessary.”

Leslie Castellano

In the dim-lit dance studio of Redwood Raks, Leslie Castellano of Eureka City Council twirled with an audience in glitter and hula hoops. Castellano, who is a performance artist and activist organized an interactive discussion around the embodiment of identity.

How does art intersect activism? Arcata’s artist hub, the Creamery District, hosted local artists, educators and activists to lead a conversation around art and politics on Feb. 23.

For the second year, non-profit organization Cooperation Humboldt and Eureka performance art collective Synapsis organized the full-day event under the name Artists Dismantling Capitalism.

Castellano, who is the founder and artistic director of Synapsis says there is a powerful intersection between art activism and politics.

“Artists who work on creative thought are also in a unique space to participate in society-making and critique and change when necessary,” Castellano said.

Guests speakers, interactive discussions and workshops focused on the universal political power of visual art and expression.

Audiences filled the rooms of Redwood Raks dance studio, Arcata Playhouse and MyKin Studio to participate in a community-building event. As the name suggests, the occasion offered alternatives to convenient consumption rooted in art and creative expression.

Sacha Marini is the owner and founder of a queer land project called Fancyland in Humboldt. Marini spoke on “liberated creative spaces” with Fancyland as an example.

A land project is a sovereign piece of land, rooted in liberated expression and coexistence, Marini said.

Marini was originally inspired by punk and anarchist spaces, like info shops in the 90s. Self-managed spaces for social expression and community conversation, or “autonomous zones” have been an imperative part of activist movements.

“We grow up in an individualistic society,” Marini said. “It is hard for people to commit to group goals.”

Marini’s autonomous living dream came true when she purchased an undeveloped lot 30 minutes east of Arcata in 2001. Along with the help of friends, Marini built a house from the ground up that now serves as a small off-grid home space. Fancyland is open to visits and no cost artist retreats.

“The concept is to share what you have,” Marini said.

Holly Hilgenberg moved to Arcata six months ago from Minneapolis and was excited to attend the event.

“I learned so many new things,” Hilgenberg said. “It’s exciting to connect and meet other people talking about social justice and activism.”

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