We so admire the work of these artists and want to thank you for offering up your suggestions.
Ai Weiwei is an artist and a social activist. His work encompasses diverse fields including fine arts, curating, architecture, and social criticism. Among numerous awards and honors, he won the Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent from the Human Rights Foundation in 2012. He has been active in making art about his illegal detention in China, and generally criticizing the criminal activities of the Chinese government.
Ryan Coogler's first feature film, Fruitvale Station, is an artful and emotional depiction of the true story of the untimely death of Oscar Grant III who was shot by transit police officers. Fruitvale Station has provoked important conversations about racism-related social injustice and premiered (coincidentally and appropriately) during the George Zimmerman trial.
Melissa Roxas is a poet and human rights activist. She is a PEN USA Rosenthal Emerging Voices, a Kundiman fellow and co-founder of Habi Arts, a Los Angeles-based cultural organization dedicated to promoting community empowerment and social justice through the arts. Melissa is a survivor of enforced disappearance and torture by the Philippine military. While conducting health care work in the Philippines on May 19, 2009, she was abducted at gunpoint and held in secret detention in a military camp and tortured for six days. She continues to advocate for all victims of state-sponsored human rights violations in the Philippines.
Josh MacPhee is a designer, artist, activist, and archivist. He started the Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative, which creates print and design work that reflects a radical social, environmental, and political stance. With members working from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, Justseeds operates both as a unified collaboration of similarly minded printmakers and as a loose collection of creative individuals with unique viewpoints and working methods. He is also the co-editor of Signal: A Journal of International Political Graphics and Culture.
Franke James is a Canadian artist, author and activist. Her books, visual stories, games and videos are focused on the environment, ethics and social justice. She tries to fight back against government censorship with humor and visual essays, merging science, art, and storytelling to inspire people to take action for the sake of the planet.
Theaster Gates has developed an expanded artistic practice that includes space development, object making, performance and critical engagement with many publics. He has been deeply committed to the revitalization of poor neighborhoods through combining urban planning and art practices.
Dave Eggers is a writer, publisher, and editor. He also founded and co-founded two non-profits: the literacy project 826 Valencia, a writing and tutoring center for kids ages 6–18; and a program that matches donors with students needing funds for college tuition called “ScholarMatch.” In September 2007, the Heinz Family Foundation awarded Eggers a $250,000 Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities, all of which award money Eggers donated to 826 National and The Teacher Salary Project.
Suheir Hammad is a Palestinian-American poet, author and political activist whose parents were Palestinian refugees who immigrated to Brooklyn, New York City. As an adolescent, Hammad was heavily influenced by Brooklyn's vibrant hip-hop scene. She had also absorbed the stories her parents and grandparents had told her of life in their hometown of Lydda, before the 1948 Palestinian exodus, and of the suffering they endured afterward, first in the Gaza Strip and then in Jordan. From these disparate influences Hammad was able to weave into her work a common narrative of dispossession, not only in her capacity as an immigrant, a Palestinian and a Muslim, but as a woman struggling against society's inherent sexism and as a poet in her own right.
Besides being an internationally renowned writer, Colum McCann, who teaches at Hunter College's MFA program, co-founded the group Narrative 4, along with Luis Alberto Urrea. On the Narrative 4 website, the group describes itself as such: "Narrative 4 helps people all over the world tell their stories in a new and powerful way. We identify those who may not have been heard—whether it be teens from the south side of Chicago or on the streets of Dublin, or under-represented youth in Kabul or in the Barrio—and offer them sanctuary to share significant stories from their lives." In the sharing and reading of others' stories, the group hopes to inspire Radical Empathy.
Widely known as co-writer and original performer in the Tony-Award-winning Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam on Broadway, Staceyann Chin's poetry has seen the rousing cheers of the Nuyorican Poets' Café, one-woman shows off-Broadway and writing workshops in Sweden, South Africa and Australia. Chin is the recipient of the 2007 Power of the Voice Award from The Human Rights Campaign, the 2008 Safe Haven Award from Immigration Equality, the 2008 Honors from the Lesbian AIDS Project, and the 2009 New York State Senate Award. She unapologetically identifies as Caribbean and black, Asian and lesbian, woman and resident of New York City.
Cecilia Vicuña is poet, political activist and founding member of Artists for Democracy. She has been creating “precarious works”, ephemeral installations in nature, cities and museums since l966, as a way of “hearing an ancient silence waiting to be heard.” She lectures and teaches workshops and seminars, for indigenous communities, and universities, such as Naropa University, Denver University, SUNY Purchase and Universidad de Buenos Aires. She recently completed a performance tour of four Latin American countries, along with the American poet Jerome Rothenberg.
Fred Ho's work fuses the melodies of indigenous and traditional Asian and African musics, which as Ho would say is the music of the majority of the world's people. He has also co-edited two books: Legacy to Liberation: Politics and Culture of Revolutionary Asian Pacific America and Sounding Off! Music as Subversion/ Resistance/ Revolution. He has a third book in progress about African Americans and Asians working together on civil rights. Ho's contributions to the Asian American empowerment movement are varied and many. He is credited with co-founding several Asian American civic groups such as the East Coast Asian Students Union while a student at Harvard, The Asian American Arts Alliance in New York City, The Asian American Resource Center in Boston, and the Asian Improv record label.