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Artivism and the Criminal Justice Club Join to Show “Wearable Art for a Purpose”

By Joanna Reid

The Artivism club combines activism and creativity, encouraging students to express their feelings on social issues through art. Some of their past events have been an open mic night with poetry, rap and spoken word, as well as a postcard making event that benefited AIDS research. On April 19, the Artivism club teamed up with the Criminal Justice Club to hold a fashion show in the University Center Ballroom. Including both in-person guests and Zoom guests a total of 100 people were in attendance.

At the event, students volunteered to make and model clothing, jewelry and posters. Some of the social justice issues that were reflected were reproductive rights, gun control, climate change and equal rights.

Students displaying the posters that other students created with political statements about equality, gun violence, and reproductive rights. Photo by: Joanna Reid

A big theme of the fashion show were the issues that come along with fast fashion such as poor working conditions and its contribution to global warming. The club members started a conversation that explained that fast fashion occurs when companies are constantly creating new clothing to keep up with the current trends. This causes many to throw away clothes to make room for new clothes. Not only does this contribute to a lot of waste, it also forces new garments to be manufactured. This production contributes to an excess amount of fossil fuels. On top of this, many companies who rely on fast fashion underpay workers and make them work in unsafe conditions. The club members' comments were supported by videos that displayed the hardships of sweatshop workers. In one video, a sweatshop worker described his first-hand experiences, explaining that he would be beat.

The president of the Criminal Justice club, Kaylee Fong, said, “The Wearable Art for a Purpose event gave the Criminal Justice Club the opportunity to speak up on social justice issues in contemporary society and educate others.”

Literature from several organizations was also available to those who wanted to learn more about sweatshop labor and how to take action against fast fashion. The organizations included Global Exchange, Global Goods Partners, Co-Op America and more.

Rowan McKiernan, president of the Artivism club, finds art to be universal and a way to spread a message for a cause. Artivism provides people with the platform and the courage to spread a message that may be important to them through any form of art they choose.

“Artivism is a way to use our voices in an unconventional way. When people think of using one’s voice, they think of protests, sit-ins, writing letters or social media posts. They very rarely think of art as a way to use one’s voice,” McKiernan said.

Towards the end of the show, student Brendan Lake performed his original rap songs alongside the models. His songs confronted the topics of police brutality and his own personal hardships in school.

“At the fashion show we spoke out against multiple issues, in multiple different ways and that is the beauty of art and this club,” said McKiernan. “Artivism provided me with a voice and the courage to use my voice.”

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