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Activist artist finds art in injustice

By Zarrin Ahmed
On February 19, 2013


Activist artist Favianna Rodriguez presented and discussed her work and her passion with students in the Art Building Tuesday afternoon, illustrating how important activism art is in today's society. 

Rodriguez screened the second video of a three part documentary series. This video focused on the issues of immigration at the border of Tucson, Arizona and shed light on the topic in perspectives most students weren't accustomed to. She discussed Operation Streamline where the restricted re-entry of removed immigrants allowed for the state to deport dozens of immigrants in a matter of minutes - practices held in mostly private prisons where supervision is limited. She demonstrated how cultural change precedes political change and how anti-immigration legislation has been a recurring theme in times of economic hardship. This was only one of many issues shown in the short documentary.

The main focus of the film, the Migrant Justice Festival, depicted the message that Rodriguez was conveying: that activism art makes a difference and is needed today. The festival, where migrant workers were compared to monarch butterflies, showcased a number of talents and artists that expressed their opinions and hardships regarding the border resentments. 

Rodriguez described herself as a visual artist trying to inspire artists, especially students, to think about how to shift the narrative of important issues in the country. By putting women of color at the forefront of her projects, she empowers the Latino communities affected by the issues she works hard to fight against. 

She gave words of wisdom to students and encouraged them to get their work out in a number of different ways, not just the traditional norms of exhibits and galleries. Rodriguez breaks her work into smaller works, which she explained can reach many people at one time rather than one piece that'll reach only a select number of people.

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