Tapping Our Creative Selves for Social Change

by Jessica T. Solomon

What if the people responsible for protecting our nation, writing our laws or discovering new medicines were encouraged to be artists, too? I function under the notion that we are all capable of using creative means to solve problems and unlock potential. If “Revolution” were a movie, let the way we do the work be the theme music.

Creativity is not an illusive entity relegated to a certain group of people or professions. It’s in everyone – realizing that may be a revolution in itself. It’s our responsibility to tap into our creative selves…there’s too much to lose if we don’t. Our communities are craving change, and pregnant with possibility. We have an opportunity to work at the intersections of art and social justice by creating purposeful work that reaches across the globe, healing wounds, lighting fires, creating dialogue and moving people to act.

If we are to engage our creative selves for social change, how do we do it? I like to imagine larger systems outside of some of our day-to-day experiences doing this work. What if Congress participated in a Theatre of the Oppressed workshop? What if war veterans were given paint and a blank canvas? What if doctors participated in community-wide celebrations when they discovered cures for disease and pain? If you can imagine the creative possibilities for others, know that you can envision your own.

As a self-proclaimed “emerging” artist and feminist, I am still growing, still green, just sprouting – but firmly rooted in inspiration, diligence, raw talent and passion. I expanded on the revolution within me when I created
The Saartjie Project,
 an all-woman artist collective exploring and confronting body politics. We use spoken word, song, dance and drama to connect history, specifically the story of Sara Baartman to our current experiences today. In a year a project that started in Washington D.C. with a few brave women has now expanded across the country with the hope and desire to work internationally.

I challenge you to live and work creatively for the sake of making the world a little better for yourself and those around you. As someone who’s beginning to open from the proverbial bud, I look forward to witnessing what we all will blossom into, and more importantly, the ways our bloom will change others.

March 30, 2009

Jessica T. Solomon is the founder of The Saartjie Project in Washington D.C., which draws upon her core beliefs in personal narratives. social justice and the power of art as a means for transformation. She is a youth worker, consultant to several arts-based organizations and is completing a master’s program in Organization Development at American University in Washington, D.C. She can be reached at [email protected]

Also see
The Poet’s Eye:
 Poems by Diane Lockward, Lois Rosen,Marge Piercy and Annie Finch, From Poetry Co-Editor Judith Arcana in the edition of On The Issues Magazine.

See Wanted: A Revolution in Critical Thinking by Susan Jacoby in this edition of On The Issues Magazine.


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Merle Hoffman's Choices: A Post-Roe Abortion Rights Manifesto

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“Merle Hoffman has always known that in a democracy, we each have decision-making power over the fate of our own bodies. She is a national hero for us all.” —Gloria Steinem

In the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe V. Wade and a country divided, Merle Hoffman, a pioneer in the pro-choice movement and women’s healthcare, offers an unapologetic and authoritative take on abortion calling it “the front line and the bottom line of women’s freedom and liberty.” 

Merle Hoffman has been at the forefront of the reproductive freedom movement since the 1970s. Three years before the Supreme Court legalized abortion through Roe v. Wade, she helped to establish one of the United States’ first abortion centers in Flushing, Queens, and later went on to found Choices, one of the nation’s largest and most comprehensive women’s medical facilities. For the last five decades, Hoffman has been a steadfast warrior and fierce advocate for every woman’s right to choose when and whether or not to be a mother.