Exhibition Dates: September 12 to October 24, 2020
Virtual Zoom Opening Reception: September 12, 4 p.m.
As thousands of people are demonstrating across the world against racism, Florida CraftArt is presenting a dynamic exhibition, “Artists as Activists – A Sneak Peek.” As artists are often the harbingers of community problems, the ones to sound the alarm of danger to our democracy or bring a crucial awareness to a social issue. This exhibit features artists who create socially engaged art and inspire dialogue within the community.
The call-to-artists exhibition was originally scheduled with extensive public programming however, because of COVID-19, the large exhibit has been postponed until May 2021. The current “Sneak Peek” is being offered because many artists had created outstanding works of art that are tied to current events. The exhibit is curated by Rolando Barrero, artist and owner of The Box Gallery in West Palm Beach, Florida.
“Artists as Activists is more than an exhibition, it a series of visual commentaries of the impact that current cultural climate has had on artists,” says Mr. Barrero. “The works included explore the unique and independent voices of artists as activists and questions the efficacy of the artist to create change in society.”
Ceramic artist Kimberli Cummings of Tampa, Florida, says of her piece, “The night I witnessed George Floyd's murder; I was deeply shaken. Then the killing of Breonna Taylor, a nurse and first responder, made headlines. I began reaching out to my Black Lives Matter groups asking, "What can I do?" With no immediate answers, I grabbed the largest piece of ceramics I had made - an urn - and started drawing the faces of both George and Breonna. As I drew, I cried, I shook. Two faces out of too many.”
Shelly Steck Reale, from St. Petersburg, Florida, created three pieces for the show, all featuring rabbits as a symbol for oppressed migrants. In one, two baby rabbits peer through iron bars at their mother. Ms. Reale says, “Sometimes words fall short. For me, that’s when visual arts have the profound ability to step in and open viewers up to a gut level perspective previously inaccessible. It is my hope that my work, at its best, illuminates an idea that encourages an examination of views and norms, sparks a new way of thinking, and serves as an impetus for change.”
Opening in tandem are “Craft for the Home” displaying fine, handcrafted furniture and accessories, and “Holiday Preview” featuring décor and gifts by Florida artisans so that people can prepare in advance for the holiday season.
Mr. Barrero will talk about the importance of activism by artists, and several of the artists will discuss their work on the Zoom opening call on Saturday, September 12 at 4 p.m. It is free to attend the virtual zoom opening, but registration is required. To register and receive the link to the event, visit https://floridacraftart.org/product/holiday-boutique-and-artists-as-activists-sneak-preview/
“Artists as Activists” is generously sponsored by Mark Anderson and Keith Bucklew, City of St. Petersburg, and the Florida Department of State Division of Cultural Affairs.
Florida CraftArt is located at 501 Central Avenue in St. Petersburg. For more information, visit www.FloridaCraftArt.org or call (727) 821-7391. Admission is free. Hours are by appointment, Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Florida CraftArt is a nonprofit organization founded in 1951 and headquartered in St. Petersburg. Its mission is to grow the statewide creative economy by engaging the community and advancing Florida’s fine craft artists and their work. Fine craft art is presented in its 2,500-square-foot retail gallery and curated exhibitions are featured in its adjacent exhibition gallery. Florida CraftArt is the only statewide organization offering artists a platform to show and sell their work.