Art for Activism supports artists, social justice

Mackenzie Bookamer, Arcade Editor

Art for Activism is an art show and auction created by Emery Gluck, Carlyn Morris and Brandon Surtain. Surtain holds a master’s degree from Tulane’s School of Architecture, and more detailed information about his art can be found here. Art for Activism was created to bring light to pertinent social issues, and the upcoming exhibition is the second iteration of the show.

promotional poster for the second iteration of art for activism, a joint auction and art show
Art for Activism is on display through May 2. (Brandon Surtain)

“Art for Activism was essentially a response to a lot of the conversations being had around George Floyd’s murder as well as the state of artist affairs in New Orleans, in particular because a lot of artists tend to work in, like, hospitality industries, and those resources weren’t there anymore,” Surtian said. 

Morris, Gluck and Surtian wanted to create an art show that would raise community awareness and competency about relevant social issues. The trio executed this by partnering with Mobilizing Millennials, an organization that focuses on getting millennials registered to vote, as well as educating millennials on important voting issues. 

“The organization we worked with was called Mobilizing Millennials and much of what they focused on was social and racial justice and gender/sexual equity,” Surtain said. “They really wanted to focus on getting millennials registered to vote and becoming educated on that whole process and becoming more politically astute and so, with the art show, we gave a portion of the proceeds to that organization.”

As well as tackling the social justice aspect, Art for Activism was also concerned with supporting artists who have been struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To accomplish this, Art for Activism gave half of the proceeds to Mobilizing Millennials and half to the artists in the show. 

Holding the show during the COVID-19 pandemic proved to be a challenge, but the show was able to be viewed virtually, and Tulane was able to offer space in Carroll Gallery for a limited number of visitors to view. The auction was completely virtual, and people could bid on pieces 24/7, offering a fast-paced and dynamic environment. Another interesting aspect during COVID-19 was that it was not until right before the show went up, the artists actually met in person, after months of communication online. 

“Much of the planning and programming around it was virtual, and in fact, it wasn’t until two days before the show went up that we all met each other in person because before that, Carlyn initially reached out to me through Instagram and we formed a friendship, started talking about some of the state of affairs,” Surtain said. 

The second iteration of Art for Activism, slated to run through May 2, will benefit Art Camp 504, a nonprofit that provides scholarships to students wanting to take art classes but unable to afford them. Just as for the first show, half of the proceeds will go to the artists and the other half will go to Art Camp 504. 

“I think the show is mostly to just raise awareness both for local artists, and this time around we’re going to do some programming where we have live music and performances and so raising awareness for local artists of all disciplines and as well as raising awareness about arts programming for children,” Surtain said.

Art for Activism has been on display since April 10, and art can be viewed at Good Children Gallery, and more information can be found here.