On July 22, 2023, the PVI ArteVism Fellows and Interns held a closing ceremony -- the only way the cohort knew how -- as a celebration of the work past and present. In a block-party approach, we came together with dynamic stations, provocative programming, and an artistic atmosphere throughout the venue.
Our vision was a party for the community by the community. Each Fellow and Intern had a station that represented some form of cultural artifact that represented or highlighted some interpretation of “resistance.”
Resistance is a powerful word. Why did we choose it? The ArteVism team reflected on our progress in advancing our goals through copious conversations. For this specific cohort, our goal was to acknowledge the struggles faced by our communities and to highlight the many forms of resistance used to confront these struggles. With a specific vision, we use art as a vehicle for social change.
The stations we had were static areas with lots of personalities. At the entrance, a photo gallery documented my cultural organizing work. Also on display were photos of the 2020 Black Lives Matter protest in Fresno, where I was part of the documentation committee.
Other images included Carmen Moreno and her daughter, Cecilia Moreno (ArteVism Alumni), both Native Americans of the Tachi-Wukchumni Tribes, collecting roots and sage from the land. We see them tying up the sage, getting it ready to dry and burn. It is symbolic of resistance as revitalization, a community that is long ignored and brushed aside. The revival of culture is an artistic practice that is combative of erasure.
The gallery also included Claudio Laso’s photos of Fresno’s Pride Parade in the historic Tower District. These are symbols of resistance as pride in a way that allows you to live your life authentically. Upon entering the venue, people saw this station first, garnishing their minds with the idea of resistance.
Next to the photo gallery, ArteVism Intern Abrahan Ramirez’s station, La Palma y El Barro, displayed cultural artifacts from his home state of Oaxaca, Mexico. This station was uniquely spiritual.
Across from Abrahan was ArteVism Alum Cecilia Moreno’s station, where she and her mother exemplified traditional Native American basket weaving. They are no strangers to this practice, as they often travel to share this native craft that revitalizes their culture. This station was very well-loved.
Finally, Intern Natalie Moreno’s station offered space to provide ideas for the ArteVism program's next steps. She also offered opportunities and ideas for getting involved in community matters. ArteVism alum Hana Luna Her engaged the participants in an interactive mural that symbolized the theme of the closing ceremony.
All these displays were essential to our narrative we were trying to convey. The programming complimented this event beautifully, with poets I Adeficha, Juan Luis Guzman, and Shane Lara kicking off the event in a beautiful tone.
Closely after the poetry, the immense and powerful Compañia De Danza El Sol gave a stunning folkloric performance. Sprinkled in was a delicious lunch by Rita Cruz Robles, who fed us traditional Michoacán corundas. Cecilia led us in a beading circle in community.
It was a grand celebration of the community formed by the ArteVism fellowship! We understand the value of artists as the cornerstone of every social movement. When it all feels like we are falling into a deep abyss, the artists are the ones who remind us to keep up the struggle.
And art is subjective. It could be many things. Art is what you wear, stories around a campfire, how you decorate your home, and the dishes you cook. We are all artists capable of creating and telling impactful stories for our communities.