'This is art as activism.' Students advocate for health care with art outside governor's office.
Three youth organizations from Northern California came together this week to celebrate art and solidarity in the State Capitol.
Members of Brown Issues, Fathers and Family of San Joaquin County, and We’Ced Youth Media painted puzzle pieces of what “We Are All Californians” meant to them and then assembled them Tuesday at the Capitol into the shape of the bear on the California flag.
All members are active participants in the California Endowment’s #Health4All campaign that aims to raise awareness that undocumented immigrants lack affordable health care in California.
Young people ages 5 to 18 created their puzzle pieces at an art party led by CultureStrike and funded by the California Endowment.
The three flags were hung in the hallway outside of the governor’s office in the state Capitol.
“It’s very empowering for young people to see their art in the path of the governor,” said Daniel Zingale, vice president of the California Endowment. He cited the event as an act of “artivism,” a way to involve young people who are typically left out of political conversation.
The colorful tiles of painted images, messages in English and Spanish and hand prints of the younger children comprised the shape of the Californian flag, a banner across the bottom including the message “Stay Loud.” The puzzle pieces included messages, such as “There is no strength without unity,” and images of linked hands and fists raised in solidarity.
While the installation included three flags at the event, one art piece will remain on display outside of the governor’s office until Tuesday.
Student members echoed this message of unity when speaking about their individual tiles.
Cisco Martinez, 17, was inspired by the Native American symbolism of a hatchet, which unites tribes and could symbolize unity between all Californians.
Jose Martinez, 16, said, “We may be different shades or colors. We may be black, brown, white, pink, purple...but inside we’re all the same, we all want the same things, we want health care, we prefer schools over prisons.”
His image depicted a black and brown hand joined by a chain, symbolizing a black and Hispanic person linked by force and oppression but also hopefully working together towards freedom despite racial difference.