Making for a Just World


By Robert Albanese, Senior Writer/Editor at Rhode Island School of Design Media Group, Photos by Nicholas Mrnarevic / Art For Amnesty

In Canvases of Courage, a documentary about artists working to advance global human rights, Jérôme Lagarrigue 96 IL (above) speaks about how his own experience surviving a hate crime in the 1980s inspired him to advocate for others through his art.

Lagarrigue was one of four painters in the documentary who joined Canvases co-creator Gerard Bush of Bush|Renz (below, second from left) and Art for Amnesty Chief Creative Director Marvin Bing (second photo below, left) at RISD for a screening of the new film last Wednesday (April 20).



After the short film, Bush, Lagarrigue, Brian “BK” Kirhagis (above), Sophia Dawson and Brandan “BMike” Odums spoke about the challenges that come with making “activist art” and the importance of discipline, passion and empathy to their creative practices. Professor Patricia Barbeito (far left in the stage photo), who leads RISD’s new Social Equity Action (SEA) working group, moderated the discussion.


Earlier in the day the visitors toured campus, meeting with students to discuss their work and talk about the role of activism at RISD. The conversations about how art can help foster understanding and inspire hope continued at a reception at the President’s House hosted by President Rosanne Somerson 76 ID (below left).



RISD is working to “figure out how we can make unique contributions – as artists, designers and educators – to the creation of a more just and equitable society,” Somerson said at the screening. “The artists who have joined us tonight…work tirelessly to create change. They use their creativity, their talent, their capacity for creating beauty and their will not only to give voice to social movements but to actively and concretely make the world a better place.

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