Daniel Arzola Brings Artivism to the U of A

By Jeremiah

Art is one of the few things that can really bring people together.

It is a tool that can take limited resources and create something evocative and powerful. It can influence and inspire change. It is something that can cut through political and cultural divides and it is one of the greatest ways to express the best and most human parts of ourselves.

Daniel Arzola is an artist and activist utilizing art to debunk stereotypes about and raise awareness of important issues in the LGBTQ community through his art project, No Soy Tu Chiste (or in English, I’m Not A Joke). It was the first viral campaign against homophobia in Venezuela and the 50 posters he created for the initiative were translated into 20 different languages. The series features striking and evocative illustrations combined with powerful and resonant messages that address complex issues like gender identity, abuse, civil rights and discrimination.

He calls his methods Artivism. A term he coined and popularized around the world himself, Artivism is the use of art as a non-violent method to change mentalities, cut through divides, and confront major and divisive social issues. The idea is that art allows people to empathize and connect with others on an emotional level and make people feel for the subjects in the art even though they don’t know them.

The concept of art as a tool for change is intriguing, especially since artistic expression is not usually equated with social justice or activism. There are many young artists out there who also want to make a difference in the world and combining their two passions can be extremely effective and quite powerful. Activism is all about expressing passions and bringing attention to certain issues and art can be both a way to express passions and bring attention to issues as well. Artivism brings art and activism together and creates a powerful tool.

Arzola first created the art series in Venezuela in 2013 where he witnessed and also experienced hate crimes and intolerance towards gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in his country and around the world. It has since gone viral and his art has been recognized all around the world and shared by celebrities and artists by the likes of Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Tituss Burgess and Katy Perry. He now teaches Artivism to young people around the world.

Arzola continues to work on his campaign and his artwork can be found on his campaign website or his social media accounts. The campaign got him a special mention in the 2013 Human Rights Award of the Canadian Embassy in Venezuela, the 2016 Human Rights Award of the International Queer and Migrant Film Festival in Amsterdam and his work was featured at the 2017 Logo Trailblazer Honors.

Art is one of the best ways to express ourselves and connect with other people. By using one of the purest expressions of our humanity as a tool, we can learn to recognize the common humanity between us.

Learn more about Artivism at next week’s International Week. Daniel Arzola will be hosting a hands-on Artivist Workshop from 2:00 p.m. to 3:20 p.m. on Thursday, February 1, 2018.

Daniel Arzola will also speak about Artivism as the final keynote presentation of International Week on Friday, February 2, 2018 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

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