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Art + Activism: Teri Henderson

Updated: Aug 12, 2020

Journalism is a VITAL part of activism. The importance of being able to control your own narratives and bring awareness to issues and individuals that deserve recognition cannot be understated.

The next activist I would like to introduce you to is Teri Henderson: Staff Writer at BmoreArt, Gallery Coordinator at Connect+Collect, and Co-Director of WDLY.

In all of her endeavors, uplifting the Black voice is an important focus. As a writer at BmoreArt, a large platform in the Baltimore art scene, her writings and perspectives hold prime real-estate in the minds of art consumers. Recently, her post entitled: A New Print Fundraiser for Baltimore Action Legal Team, shed light on performance artist Monsieur Zohore and how he was able to collaborate with New York-based galleries and raise funds for Baltimore Action Legal Team (BALT), an organization that offers legal services to protesters. She also celebrated Juneteenth and highlighted a ritualistic performnace piece in her article, Juneteenth and MAWU, a Durational Performance Designed by Ada Pinkston.

Here is our interview:

1. How do you use art/platform as activism?

In my work as a writer I try to focus or steer the bulk of my work towards uplifting the voices of Black and brown creatives. As a curator I am always thinking of the ways that I can curate exhibitions or shows that center Black art. It’s been strange for me because I really have been itching to work on curating another show independently, but I find it difficult to do so when I do not know when galleries will actually reopen. We can all agree that the world seems to be on fire, or that the fires have become more evident and obvious, I want to make work that responds to those flames.

2. Why is it important for you to use art/creative endeavors for activism?

I believe it is my duty to make sure that activism is always a part of my work. Even if it is not blatantly obvious upon first glance, I know that my work will have an undercurrent of activism, just because of who I am as a person. I have always held more liberal and “extreme” beliefs. I think this is because of my intersectionality as a Black bisexual woman. I try to make sure that writing that I do, the work that I do, and the shows that I curate reflect the intersectionality of my position.

3. How would you encourage or suggest other creatives use their art/artistic talents for activism?

I would encourage other creatives to use their art/artistic talents for activism by first checking in with themselves and their own emotional well being. Start from that place and then evaluate the ways that you can see yourself being involved that won't emotionally or mentally drain you. Take care of your self so that you can support and free others. I have social anxiety, as well as a deep mistrust of the police, and because of this I recognize I am incapable of protesting with a large group of people at this time.

Instead I try to support causes I care about, like abolishing the current police system, or freeing those who have been wrongfully incarcerated, by spreading awareness about individual cases, through my work as a writer or by financial donations. That is my form of activism, using my creative practice to bring attention to injustice or elevate the voices of creative Black people.

So my words of encouragement to other creatives are to give of yourself - your time, your resources, only in the way that best serves you, even if that doesn't look like what other people expect you to do, because that will help ensure your own strength and longevity. Revolutions are long term engagements. Do not forget to rest.

4. What are some ways to support you and/or a cause that you are passionate about?

Ways to support me: read my writing and share it with others, that’s the best way at the

moment. In the future when I write about certain artists, or one of my platforms features an artist, purchase their work. I think that the causes I am most passionate about are supporting musical artists and DJs in Baltimore who are unable to work right now because of venues and spaces being closed. Stream their music, buy their music, and commit to booking them when the more normal world resumes.

I also want to make sure this is in print, Free Keith Davis Jr.
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