In the "Artist Spotlight" series, we go behind the posters to hear directly from several of the artists...
Artist: Monica Trinidad: Chicago, IL
Artwork: The Dream is Real
When you make art, whom do you make it for?
I love to take on art projects for grassroots efforts that are trying to garner some visibility on extremely small or even non-existent budgets, or in other words, those that are trying to be self-sustaining outside the non-profit industrial complex. Definitely for projects or organization that are youth of color-led and really centering the folks that are most directly impacted by state violence. And definitely for the preserving and uplifting of our collective narratives of struggle and resistance that are constantly getting whitewashed or washed away from history and memory.
Who has been a big inspiration for you as an artist?
The beauty of being a movement artist is that most of the time you’re creating artwork around the struggles you’ve co-organized or been apart of. I experience the energy of mobilizations and a lot of brilliant speeches and marches first-hand. Young, fearless Black and Brown organizers in Chicago who guide us through innovative actions and revolutionary dreaming inspire me on the daily. I’m driven by the need to document our struggles in every form because I want to make it as difficult as possible for the opposition to twist our collective histories. Micah Bazant is also a huge inspiration to me. Their work navigates uplifting individual queer and trans people of color in a way that feels honest and accessible, if that makes any sense. I just know how complex it can be to make artwork that highlight’s an individual’s work and you hope you’re doing them justice in a way that’s not tokenizing or erasing of the movement that’s doing work along side them.
What role can art play in resisting militarism & state violence?
I think art has a unique power to actualize possibilities of a world without state violence in ways that books and essays can't. We can have discussions and work on projects that slowly eradicate the necessity of police and prisons, but what do these prison-free and police-free worlds actually look like? Artists can guide us into the critical next step of visualizing these worlds. Art can ground us and reminds us what we’re working towards when we get too deep in our work. Art is integral to organizing against state violence because it’s deeply apart of so many of our cultures; sustaining the ability to create art is resistance in itself. Of course books and essays are essential to our growth in becoming informed people, but think about the power of bringing a group of people to a mural or to various art pieces in a room that shows us a history of police violence in Chicago, for example. You’ve not only captured their attention with stirring visuals, but you’ve also just informed a large group of people on state violence in record time. And in a world where we are round-the-clock organizing against rapidly developing oppressive systems, realizing the role of art is a critical component to getting free.