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Street Wise Arts

When Art Goes Up, Walls Come Down


NOV 11, 2022 | ISSUE 10

Street Wise Arts
Street Wise Arts
Street Wise Arts

It’s time to look up. Burying our heads in the midst of social strife has never been a winning solution, but how do we make an impact from our tiny corners of the universe? Leah Brenner Clack, Executive Director of the Street Wise Arts non-profit, declares “ARTivism” as the way forward. Through her annual artistic activism mural festival, Clack is creating, refining, and scaling a model for neighbourhoods to put art up, tear walls down, and build equitable towns.

sM | Why are murals an appropriate medium for showcasing cultural diversity, social activism, and community values?

LBC ── Murals are super accessible and also disruptive to the normal urban environment. They create impact and engage people just with their presence. When we create murals that include important themes like diversity and social justice, it provides an easier entryway into thinking about social change and the way that we can get there. The murals also provide a visual representation of diversity that’s not often at the forefront in Boulder. Since launching, we have prioritized equitable representation for womxn, people of colour, indigenous, and LGBTQ+ artists to address that inequity and be a model for other festivals and organizations. We’re providing creative opportunities that can launch artists into new terrain that can shift the trajectory of their career.

sM | How do you approach the challenge of creating civic dialogue opportunities in this time of political bifurcation?

LBC ── The great thing about ARTivism is that it’s often a gentler way of approaching difficult topics. There are layers of understanding that reveal themselves when experiencing, creating and feeling. Part of Street Wise’s programs is putting together panel discussions that bring together artists and activists to help guide conversations. We hope to remove preconceived notions and predetermined reactions on social issues, by creating connections first through creativity and conversation. By working with fellow non-profits, we are able to pool resources and come together on common community goals to execute more impactful projects. Collaboration, connection, and understanding our community is the key to success which starts with relationship building and understanding the needs, desires and fears that may exist.

sM | What does the rest of 2022 have in store for Street Wise Arts? LBC ── Our annual Street Wise ARTivism Mural Festival will be another engaging and exciting cultural event built around the installation of a series of new murals, new artists, new workshops, and community events. We are building more engagement opportunities through the digital realm by integrating augmented reality layers to new and existing murals for the festival, offering digital skill building workshops that support artists careers and including digital immersive installations into the festival programs. We can’t wait!