We are at war—with ourselves, with each other, with social media. Turn on the news, and what do you see? Hate, violence, lies, depression and sadness, no longer hidden in the shadows. They sit with us at breakfast and are there greeting us at the front door in the evening. Our government officials have gone insane, school shootings are on the rise, our healthcare is being dismantled, and we are still trying to convince the world that Black Lives Matter, only to have it fall on deaf ears. In these turbulent times it’s difficult to find a positive outlet, to express frustration, or to say, “This is not acceptable.”
These are just some of the many reasons Shannon Percoco and Kate Snyder started Resist. Resist 2.0 is the second annual political art showcase where local artists use their art to express how they feel about the administration. This year, there were ninety-seven local artists and four bands participating. All artists donated half of their profits to support local organizations such as Black Lives Matter, Courage Connection, IMC, R.A.C.E and Three Spinners. Shannon Percoco, an art teacher at Centennial High School, sent out a call for artists following the 2016 election. Percoco had been making art in response to what was going on in the world. “The Women’s March uplifted and let down a lot of us. I felt like…now what? What can we do to resist the current administration?” She sent out a call for artists, and Kate Snyder was the first to answer that call. “There’s a lot of hate associated with the current administration and the current events going on in the world. The theme of resistance comes from supporting local organizations, and pushing back against oppression. In turbulent times artists have always responded to what’s going on in the world and this is definitely a historical time.”
Percoco and Snyder never thought it would take off like this. Planning for about ten artists the first year, they were delighted when sixty-five artists got involved and three bands joined in. They made $4,000 for local organizations. This year, the event was even larger, hosting ninety-seven artists and four bands. They aren’t sure just how much money they’ve made as of yet, but it’s bound to be significant. I had the chance to attend the event this year, and it was amazing. All forms of art were showcased in one venue, expressing uplifting words of empowerment in response to frustration and rage against injustice. There was photography, fashion, paintings, screen printing—there were even protest cookies! I enjoyed walking around and talking with some of the artists.
Ja Nelle Pleasure is a local fashion designer, and she takes recycled materials and make clothes out of them. Her piece was a dress made out of zippers, Mike and Ike candies, newspapers, bottle caps and hair weave. “The theme of resist plays a part in my artwork; the hair weave represents black women and non conformity to the straight hair requirement of corporate America.”
I didn’t have a lot of expectations coming into this event, but it surpassed what I thought it would be like. Artists expressed to me the joy of having a platform to showcase their works. “There are established artists, as well as emerging artists, and it’s a beautiful thing—they’re making connections and building a community,” Kate Snyder expresses. There were students from Parkland and U of I—even Percoco’s 11 year old son participated. “We’re resisting against the traditional art scene, we’re not trying to be too precious or stuffy. We welcome all with open arms,” Percoco says smiling.
Photos by Nika Lucks.