Social change and art have gone hand-in-hand for a long time. Artists have seemingly always used a blank canvas or the lens of a camera to provide commentary and instigate change within political, economic and social systems.
Art for social change
Social change and art have gone hand-in-hand for a long time. Artists have seemingly always used a blank canvas or the lens of a camera to provide commentary and instigate change within political, economic and social systems. In a city known for progressive and alternative lifestyles, it doesn’t come as a surprise that an art gallery exists with the sole purpose of promoting social and environmental change.
SEA Change Gallery is that gallery—founded with the purpose of advocating environmental responsibility and social justice through the use of art. With a mission statement like that, it makes sense that the exhibits which fill the walls monthly would share the gallery’s values and also fit within the niche arena of unique ways of propelling social movements.
Founded a little over a year ago by Katherine Ball and Alec Neal, SEA Change seeks to change the culture within the art community and engage the city’s environmental and social policy in a way that has not been done before.
“We are interested in the intersection of environmental and social issues,” Ball said.
By exhibiting events that detail environmental degradation and its toll on communities, SEA Change is able to provide a connection between issues affecting the environment and how these events are affecting us on a very personal level.
The SEA Change gallery space is not only used for art, but also as a gathering space for grassroots organizations, non-profits and fundraisers which support the SEA Change mission statement.
“As long as the groups don’t charge a fee for attendance, we don’t charge to use the space,” says Bell.
This month at SEA Change, local nonprofit Project Grow will be overtaking the space and transforming it into their workspace. Project Grow uses a variety of methods to enhance the lives of developmentally challenged adults including art, farming, yoga and music.
Not coincidental is Project Grow’s dedication to being a community organization, striving to include the community in projects and events as well as educating the community on the value of art and natural food.
One of the more exciting developments to come to Project Grow’s itinerary of good is the North Portland Farm. The farm is run by developmentally challenged adults who produce enough food to supply CSA members with 17 weeks’ worth of 65 different varieties of vegetables, berries, flowers and artwork that is made by the farmhands and other challenged adults that the program works with.
Project Grow has also been the host of many lectures series dealing with the challenges that face the developmentally challenged, the environment and other social issues.
Many of the specifics of Project Grow’s SEA Change residency are yet to be defined. The residency hopes to address larger issues like what it means to be normal, while staying within the confines of the group and galleries objectives.
“A bunch of different projects will be activated in the space,” Bell said. “It is going to be open-ended; there are no parameters. The point is to engage with the public.”
Making Space by Project Grow is bound to be a unique experience to participate in art and support the communities’ involvement in the important work of local nonprofits.