By Tara Miller
AFO Content Writer
Dear Beloved Community,
We are thrilled to announce the official launch of the Art for Ourselves Patreon, with the epic release of our Three-Year Anniversary Issue.
Since its inception in 2015, Art for Ourselves has gone through deep and meaningful transformation, becoming a publication whose goal is explicitly the liberation of all people and prosperity of marginalized individuals and communities, specifically. Today, we are an online grassroots community publication dedicated to validating and humanizing the experiences of marginalized peoples - by creating art for ourselves. Our definition of art is expansive. Creating art for ourselves means creating our lives in the context we’re in and having the courage to imagine a future in which we are all allowed to thrive. We strive to center, share, and celebrate the stories that are most often erased from mainstream narratives. In doing so, we shift mindsets and facilitate understanding of how oppression manifests in our lives and how we liberate ourselves from the capitalist white supremacist-heteropatriarchy.
In a time when the evils of political and economic systems that govern the United States and our world are coming increasingly to light for many, it can be tempting to allow our attention to focus only on immediate needs, putting out fires here, organizing against specific evils there, dedicating time and energy only to solutions that offer clear and tangible results. And these responses are important, yes, they do need our energy, because they can make a difference in real individual lives. They can put pressure on powerful people to make immediate changes and shift mindsets for the long term.
Alongside these reactive strategies we also feel deep in our bodies a need for the imagination, creativity, lens shift, and poignant critique that art has and will always offer us when hopelessness threatens.
On October 7th, one day after the Kavanaugh confirmation, Sonia Guiñaseca posted this timely quote from Toni Morrison on Instagram: “This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal, I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge--even wisdom. Like art.”
Guiñaseca expanded and reflected on this quote in their post, commenting, “Artists and cultural workers of color, let’s continue creating and imagining and healing. Let’s show them/us of the worlds possible...And let’s also rest, and reflect, and be in silence, and self care, and mourn, and be in all emotions. Let our creative process be sustainable, let it mirror our bodies and mental needs. It’s ok to go and draw, write and create and it’s also ok if you just cook a meal, sleep, hug a friend, cry during these times… I see you, I witness you, and you deserve to show up for yourself in the ways right for you. You existing is already the most radical masterpiece you can ever create.”
At Art for Ourselves we strive to celebrate artists and writers who are doing this imagination and healing work. We offer resources for folks to practice healing, like our Radical Embodiment series, playlists, and meditations on care. We strive also to offer honest and empathetic critiques of toxic practices that permeate our own movements and meaningful analyses of the fucked up systems that govern not just our institutions, but also our work environments, interpersonal relationships, and families.
We are and have been doing this work while working multiple paying jobs, while unemployed and underemployed, while facing our own mental health challenges, and, for many of us, while struggling to make ends meet.
Last year, our Editorial Team decided that we could not continue this project in good faith without being able to compensate writers in some capacity. We launched a fundraising campaign and through the generous support of readers like you, we were able to raise enough money to pay contributors outside the Editorial Team $25 per piece.
It’s not a lot and it’s not enough, but it is what has allowed us to produce the content you love, support emerging artists and writers in their crafts, and continue the important work of imagining, critiquing, building, and caring.
Now, the funding from that first campaign has run out, and we’re asking you to support us in creating a more sustainable funding stream for our publication and our writers.
Queer and trans people of color do too much of our work for free, when we are disproportionately poor, unemployed, and chronically ill. We cannot break this toxic cycle without your support in compensating queer and trans writers and artists who are Black/African, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, and Indigenous.
Can you support us today?