A note from Jenny, Gallery Manager at Light Grey Art Lab
Happy New Year from the Light Grey Team!
I hope your year is filled with curiosity, giving, and collaboration!
This is my favorite time of year. I live for curling up in a big chair with coffee, notebooks, and a calendar making plans for the future. It is exciting (my moon virgo is thrilled) to make lists of the things that were difficult, surprising, true experiences, and full of love this last year. I rarely stick to my resolutions (r.i.p. quickbooks) but it is interesting to follow the trail of how things diverted to create a new constellations made of current obsessions, mystery books, and the cause and effect of choices. I am so thankful for the soft, snowy days where the world outside mimics a sense of infinite possibilities.
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” Theodore Roosevelt.
This quote has been ringing in my head all year. One of the Iceland artists-in-residence, Irma Del Valle Nachón, reminded me of this quote when talking about her own business, hiring local craftspeople and what it means to be a responsible maker. This is something that I remind myself of often when feeling helpless by the current political realm, trying to protect the environment, make a difference, be a good person, and also create in a meaningful way. In all of the possible ways to contribute, some of the most potent and impactful can be right here.
Personally, giving back and altruism looks like teaching, sharing skills, getting involved with organizations, and being kind. It is not always necessary or even possible to contribute in a monetary way, and that is okay. This year, I will ask myself, what can I do as an individual/collaborator/friend/manager and what skills/time/thoughts do I have to share. I look forward to posting some serious plans this week and hearing your resolutions and ways that you give back as well! If you have reflections or resolutions, you can tell us about them here.
Niky Motekallem is an Ohio-born, Minneapolis-residing illustrator whose work celebrates both life and death, especially that within the natural world. Using vibrant, eye-catching palettes and a unique blend of media, her work embodies an attention to, and compassion for, the world that surrounds her.
Have you used your creative voice / or your presence in the past toward bringing awareness to a cause? What was it / why did you want to participate?
The one that stands out most to me at this moments was a companion piece for a performance curated by Essma Imady in the MIA. It was shortly after the 2016 election. Before the performance began, flashlights were handed to the audience. Attached to the flashlights was a flier that I illustrated, reading "1. Use your privilege and experience to stave off injustice. 2. Don't take a break from being an ally. 3. Adopt a zero tolerance policy for overt hatred." The audience didn't know the purpose of the flashlights until they entered a dark auditorium where a dancer performed. They were suppose to use the flashlights to light the stage. The purpose of this event was to remind us how to be an ally. To remind us that no matter the circumstance we need to prioritize our humanity over anything else. To adopt a zero tolerance policy for overt hatred. I think it's really important to remember that even when we get worn down.
Do you have any personal exercises, mantras, or reminders that help you work towards being a positive force in the world?
The sentences "Be gentle. Be kind. But be firm" often pass in my head. It reminds me of the kind of person I want to be. The ideal version of myself is gentle, kind, but unyielding. I'm not that version of myself yet, but this mantra helps. I think there is great power in being gentle and kind. But that doesn't mean we yield and bend to those who wish to do harm. So be firm. Be kind and warm but also tall and strong when other's can't.
What kind of positive change would you like to see in the next five years?
Maybe it's sappy, but I really want to see more kindness. More empathy. I think a lot of the world's problems come from an unwillingness to be empathetic. Personal interests muddy those waters. A lot of harm happens because there're profits on the line. So I hope in the next five years there's more empathy and compassion.
What made you choose the organization that you are donating to? What is this organization doing that you find especially important?
When I saw videos and photos of the damage the wildfires caused, it made my throat tighten and my heart drop. Losing my home is one of my biggest fears. And so many people had to face that fear and are still struggling in the aftermath of all those flames. I picked the American Red Cross Wildfire Relief because they are helping provide shelter and resources for those who lost their homes, support emergency responders who have risked their lives, and create recovery plans.
You can find all of the work from the Small Art for a Big Cause show on the Light Grey Shop here.
Work will be on display through February 1st, 2019.