Smile Politely

Solidarity and healing at RESIST Art Show

In today’s political climate, it is easy to succumb to feelings of sadness, anger, and hopelessness. It is easy to get burnt out on calls to representatives, petitions and protests. When that happens, it is important to know that you are not alone and that is okay to unplug from the news and social media, especially Twitter. Luckily, our community is full of individuals who want to be politically active, but also understand the value of self-care. Two of those individuals are Katie Snyder and Shannon Percoco, the organizers of the RESIST Art Show that will take place this Saturday, March 4th from 2-7p.m. at IMC Gallery in downtown Urbana.

About three to four weeks ago, motivated and inspired by the global turnout for the Women’s March on Washington, Percoco pondered the question, “What are other avenues to harness energy from protests?” and posted a status on Facebook, “Would anyone be interested in doing a protest art show?” Within 12 hours, based on comments and messages responding to her query, Percoco realized that such an event was feasible and even necessary. It was within that 12-hour period that Snyder became involved, ready to team up to make such an art show a reality.

Both Percoco and Snyder are local educators. Percoco, a practicing artist, has been teaching at Centennial High School for 19 years. Snyder is the Education Program Specialist at Museum of the Grand Prairie with a background in project-based teaching, in which inidividuals respond to what they see and learn by creating something of their own. In this way, the two make a great duo.

Many artists, Percoco says, make but do not share their art. And, at a time when she was wondering if others felt as lost as she did, she also wondered if other artists were channeling their grief and anxiety into their work. For Percoco, art became the perfect way to unload and also unplug. And so she thought, perhaps others needed art just as much as her.

“Doctor My Eyes” by Phil Strang

With her background in project-based teaching, Snyder has seen first hand that it is, “empowering to respond to the world through the arts.” Art takes off during troubled times, Snyder told me, asserting that is it not only helpful to make art, but to experience it as well. United in the belief that it is beneficial to create and see art during times such as these Percoco and Snyder invite local artists to do just that.

When choosing organizations to work with, it was important Snyder says, that they be representative of the community and their overall goal for the show. The IMC Gallery seemed to fit just that. Their mission statement reads, “The Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center’s mission is to foster the creation and distribution of media and art that emphasizes underrepresented voices and perspectives, and to promote empowerment and expression through media and arts education.” With their vision and that message in mind, Percoco and Snyder set out to energize the community, foster unity, and inspire hope.

From 10 to 74 years old, from amateur to professional, Percoco and Snyder now have 35 artists coming to share their work this Saturday, with other artists still working on their submissions. From photos, paintings, knit hats, prints, earrings, and even bath bombs, an incredible number of media will be available for purchase. Previews of some of the work can be seen on the event’s Facebook page. 

In solidarity with groups in our community in need of allies, Percoco and Snyder chose three organizations with social justice missions, in addition to IMC Gallery, to receive a minimum 30% donation from the sale of each piece. Each artist is permitted to choose the IMC Gallery, Black Lives Matter CU, Courage Connection, or Three Spinners to receive a portion of their sales. The prices of the artwork have been made affordable so that the pieces can continue to have a life and a voice in the community after the show. Attendees of the art show are encouraged to donate to IMC Gallery at the door when they arrive.

“Pest Control #1” by Jan Kappes

Another way for the community to get involved at RESIST is at the show’s community art table. Available at the art show will be pre-cut triangles for attendees to decorate and express their ideas. When completed, those decorated triangles will be added to a banner, combining the ideas, hopes, and concerns of the community in one physical place. Percoco and Snyder hope for the event to allow people of any age, artistic level, and demographic to experience and contribute to the healing power of art.

Percoco and Snyder also invite community members to contribute to RESIST even if they do not make art. While much of the planning of the art show has gone “seamlessly” there are places where the two could use some help. Percoco and Snyder are taking donations from napkins to cups to food, accepting help for setting up and taking down the event, and other needed duties. If you’re interested in donating any food, items or your time follow this link to sign up.

Both of the RESIST organizers have been so encouraged by the enthusiasm on social media for this event and the giving nature of our community. Three artists have donated their time and talent to perform music at the event. Knights of Cabiria will be performing from 2-4 p.m., Coneflowers from 4-5 p.m., and Sunsat IV from 6-7 p.m.

“No Peace” by Larry J. Brent Jr.

Looking to the future, Percoco and Snyder hope that the community remains energized and remain hopeful. They urge individuals not to become overwhelmed by what they see happening in the world around them so that they can continue to fight. Percoco and Snyder are examples of what you can do if, in the words of Snyder, “we look for the way we can help in all the moments that come because there will be a lot.”

Wall pieces at the art show will be available for viewing at the IMC Gallery from March 1st to the 18th.

For more details about the show, for attendees or interested artists and craftspeople, you can visit RESIST Art Show’s Facebook page.

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