The Raison D'être

Art & Gender For Impact

Sarah Farid

7/31/20235 min read

Research proves art to be the most impactful catalyst to make lasting change happen. Art reflects the power of the unconscious and connects humanity as a whole. Meaningful dialogue and impact in creative works resonate with the universality of human experience, going beyond advocacy to the subconscious realm for change across borders. Art represents collective memory in echoes of the past and individual lived experience. Yet, most of the art we see is the tiny proportion of prominent (predominantly male) artists. In 2019, the NYT reported the fascinating statistic that over the past decade 11% of all acquisitions and 14% of exhibitions at 26 prominent U.S. museums are of artists identifying as female. Elitist and abysmally underrepresented in the rich diversity art has to offer, capitalist and conventional systems don't work. They sell the dream of impact as a consumerist commodity, in bite-sized chunks. Parallel, alternative, artistic communities do.

We are a climate conscious counter-culture movement of 300 artists responsibly sourcing art and collaborations at the frontlines of impact. Whoa, that's a tongue twister. No, but really. Artful coexistence goes beyond bounds of conventional structures, whose parts, knowingly or unwittingly, support the whole, a yin to the yang, if you will. Both sides of the same coin, power structures, law, media and nonprofit behemoths, serve agendas that subvert progress or slow it down. Our art impact campaigns in South Asian Karachi (past two years and ongoing), North American Austin (current) and (next 5 years) European Berlin, goes beyond that.

As a recovering journalist and international development professional, as a practicing human rights lawyer for a decade, I am all too familiar with the limits of relying on traditional structures to precipitate change. Mired in politics, steeped in bureaucracy, artificial injections lacking sustainability. The resistance to change perseveres, despite huge leaps by meaningful institutions and individuals, the entire process often feels like one step forward and two steps back.

Our mission, therefore, is four-fold: cross cultural exchanges to create resilient communities of the future, amplify gender and racially diverse artist's visibility and voices in the upper echelons of the art world, improve sustainability for artists by financial viability through selling original artwork for socially conscious curators and breaking down barriers to shape narratives by highlighting urban planning, climate change and gender discrimination.

Art is at the core of urban development for the future. Nonviolence, fairly earned income, access to public spaces and civil liberties, harmonious community interaction, is spurred on by art. Economic, social and environment goals being served by art is our protest for a better world. Art is the channel for creative expression, self-reflection and conveying stories through sound, movement, words or visual the mediums for this impact.

For us, art is within us and all around us. Art is the magnum opus, the masterpiece of modern civilization. Art is universal and individual. Art makes us pause, reflect, question. Art powerfully evokes change by the emotions it sparks. Art is a fundamental human right.

Not reserved for the elite or a select geographical, interest or cultural group. Breaking free of the domination in the arts by the masters, giants or recognized genius, we promote the grassroots artist. That on the field fighting for the cause of art and progress. Against the commercialization of art towards funding, showing and paying for the already established names, to sustaining the efforts of the next generation of contemporary living artists, who often put their art before financial resources, in order to fund it and make it accessible. What has been given to the world in this way by generous creators bears to be compensated fairly.

The first myth we encounter is what the word "artist" itself means to the general public. Which shows our lack of nuanced understanding of the artist's inner experience and process. An artist is a visual artist, a painter, sculptor, or fine artist. Yes, granted this. However, we are writers, freethinkers, dancers, performers, music creators, founders. We are activists, architects, urban planners, wellness experts, filmmakers, professional clowns, theater actors. We are the future of change. We are a sustainable artist community. The only international art community in 3 continents, working for gender equity and sustainability in communities we inhabit and travel to.

Of our last curated group exhibition of 22 South Asian artists from our Karachi chapter, emerging themes by contemporary artists featured conversations about the cycles of domestic violence and abuse witnessed by a child with a teddy on puppet strings by Fariha Khan and a woman in angst, stripped of her dignity, future and clothes, a taboo-shattering image of a red "AUCTIONED" stamp on a body without clothes, a pawn in the $10 billion a year black market industry predominantly in Asia and North Africa moving humans captured and lured by prospects of a better life to networks in the West by Ramsha Khan, in a massive 3 feet by 4 feet original artwork on canvas.

We also showcased by Bilal Ahmed "Entitled Bodies" and a "Mass of Infinite Pain," exploring his journey as a person with a fully functioning body to becoming disabled, along with profound realizations on how humans being physically abled for granted, what a deadweight body feels like, in two gorgeous sculptures. Digital artwork in the collection also offered Remal Arif's digital renditions of being a brown woman in modern day Pakistan, surrounded by questions of "are you expecting (of hope)?" in the response "no, I am not of hope" or poking fun at the self-indulgence of being an Insta star, stating "Mom, I'm insta famous." Select works are available for international shipping and with a Certificate of Authenticity through our online gallery upon a Bid of Interest. The exhibition itself was 3 months in the making, December 2022-February 2023.

Bright-eyed Axel Lucas' "Page 6" is a Pink Floyd's We Don't Need No Education-reminiscent work of art, touching upon the artist's challenging days, being force-fitted to write "6," a number that is written the wrong way around as a young student with dyslexia, and getting punished for it. It speaks to the futility of an education system foisting mediocrity and conformity into the human spirit by bullying, threats and discipline, in stark contradiction to the creative potential of humans. We couldn't possibility do justice to 22 artists by breaking down their work in a few words here, so we have spotlighted a few. Those works are forever etched in our memories, are available on our Future-Forward Art Store and will be elaborated on later, as only that of the gallery visitor's momentary gaze does not serve the brilliance going into each work of art.

But for now, we return to 25th February, 2023. The night of Transcendence: A Journey through the Arts. Art exhibit opening+a festival of the senses. 100 attendees. A massive feat pulled off by a team of 4, the exhibition kickoff night featured a dance troupe, a tribal drum circle, acoustic highly selective performances by 4 musicians rendering original compositions. "Kabootar" by Sultan Baloch. Kabootar focused on a bird, naive and loving freedom, unfamiliar with the ways of an unforgiving world that wants to cut off its feathers and entrap it, crushing its beautiful spirit. Symbolic of an artist wanting to soar high and sing their song for the universe, Baloch recorded his unplugged songs and mesmerized us by his melodies and sheer genius in the audition blowing us away in the days before the night of. Our team couldn't stop replaying and chatting about that. Spunky Aleeya Zarif rocked the night with her nightingale and her fellow guitarist didn't miss a beat. Fahad Nasim, seasoned electric guitarist, whose devotion to his craft shines through, created ripples in the crowd by his twangy sounds to end the night with pizzazz.

Decades in the making, insights into leveraging art for impact have led us down this part of artistic revolutionary self-direction by collective effort. A paradox in itself, I realize. What this means is rallying for alternative means to resurrect new co-creative systems, bringing artists together for gender equity and a sustainable future that values us above our circumstances and means. By resource pooling, knowledge sharing, being 80% self-funded, always, we maintain our independent status and pack maximum punch for impact. To celebrate, mourn, be heard, be silent, witness, perform, live, transcend just be. And (earnestly), to make change happen in the midst of it all, crafting a legacy for ourselves and those who come after us. Making space and being heard in the art world. Internationally.

Join us, won't you?


Sarah F.
Founder/Chief Artivist in Residence