Some art can bring awareness to a popular uprising, like the effort to protest drilling in Alaska. Just ask Quin Sweetman.
Lead Image: “Artful Activism, St. Johns Bridge,” by Quin Sweetman, oil, 16 x 20 in.

Sweetman calls the painting of important events — such as the protest mounted by Greenpeace activists along the St. Johns Bridge in Portland, Oregon — artivism, and she offers a definition. “For me, artivism means making art about issues I care about, and being good stewards of our natural environment is quite important if we want to continue our way of life, leave something for the next generation, and have beautiful places to paint,” says Sweetman. “The Greenpeace activists who suspended themselves from the bridge created the most visually beautiful form of protest I’d seen, so perhaps they are also artivists. I’m honored that so many people have appreciated the painting I was creating to document their act. It has also occurred to me that simply painting plein air is an act of artivism in that we put ourselves out there in public places, illustrating what we care about, and we are often educating the public about art when they see us creating and engage us in conversation. I’ve only recently come to really appreciate the magnitude of this. It is a privilege to be able to spend our time in this manner.”


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