To roll with change is a skill more necessary than ever in a world where new developments arise so quickly.
From political strife to a worldwide epidemic to coast-to-coast protests and demonstrations, recent headlines have come faster than body blows in a heavyweight title fight.
So when calls for police reform and justice for George Floyd drove COVID-19 out of the spotlight faster than a politician makes a promise, the creative collective behind the imminent “Artists Who Share” humanitarian auction knew better than to miss a beat.
What began as an art auction to support coronavirus recovery efforts thus effortlessly changed course and broadened its mission to include pandemic assistance and repairing damage caused in the wake of Floyd’s murder among its beneficiaries.
More than 40 artists in several countries, ranging in age from 8 to 91, from a wide array of cultural backgrounds and working in many mediums, will have work among the offerings — including Bainbridge Island’s own Jen Colburn, a graphic designer perhaps best known for her popular “missed the ferry” mug.
Edina, Minnesota-based public-benefit corporation Inclusivi-tee, who specialize in sustainable fashion and promoting environmental and social justice, will host the auction, set to take place online from Friday, June 26 through Sunday, June 28.
“As soon as George Floyd was murdered, we knew we had to shift,” said founder Lori Myren-Manbeck. “We live 10 minutes from Minneapolis. I work, go to restaurants, and visit my daughter in the city. This is our home. We could not simply pretend this tragedy was not unfolding around us.”
The auction will be accessible from www.inclusivi-tee.com as well as from a separate Facebook event page and will feature work from established and new artists from the United States, Colombia, Kenya, The Netherlands, Argentina, and England.
Within days of the murder, Myren-Manbeck said she had spoken to artist Joe LaBlanche, whose partner, Lydia Marie, runs 1Love/1Mission, a nonprofit supporting people experiencing homelessness in Minneapolis. LaBlanche agreed to donate several pieces for the auction with proceeds going to 1Love/1Mission.
Myren-Manbeck also reached out to Greta McLain and Cadex Herrara, who worked with other artists to create a mural honoring Floyd. Both promptly agreed to join the auction’s roster.
“As we work to understand and cope with Mr. Floyd’s murder while reopening and redefining who we are, we have an opportunity to do better, to more strongly support equity, to stop police brutality and reduce racism, and to more decisively protect the earth and each other,” Myren-Manbeck said.
The participating artists bring diverse perspectives to their work, through mediums including watercolor, acrylic, oil, charcoal, needlework, quilting, photography, drawing, fabric painting, and applique.
Famed actress Sharon Stone reportedly donated her first-ever painting, which she created during the pandemic. Netia Worley, 91, a professional artist from Iowa, is donating two pieces, including a new work designed specifically for the auction.
“‘Artists Who Share’ is a fun, inspiring way to discover new artists, contribute to our shared recovery, and obtain some beautiful art,” said Myren-Manbeck. “It is also a reminder that we are better, more creative, stronger, and more interesting together.”
Colburn, who has lived on Bainbridge for about three years, and previously lived in Minneapolis, said she was invited to participate by a friend, another contributing artist, and was on board at once.
“It’s a small world, the fact I moved from Minneapolis, where Inclusivi-tee is based, and so it’s kind of fun to come full circle and be involved in this,” she said.
“It feels close to my heart that we can add in some new nonprofits that we can share with … especially the Lake Street Business Association, which is in Minneapolis, being that I lived there for 11 years I feel a close tie with that community so I’m excited that we can bring that into this,” she explained. “The whole world has changed in the last three months, and obviously significantly again in the last two weeks with the protests and bringing things to light, which I feel like is a long time in coming, and so I’m excited that we can give back in that way.”
In addition to bidding on art, participants can donate directly to humanitarian groups via the event website. Twenty-five percent of money collected will go to the artists and 75 percent to select nonprofits, which include The United Way as well as smaller organizations such as 1Love/1Mission and Corporación Pazifistas in Colombia, whose mission is “feeding the present and building the future,” and the Lake Street Business Association, which supports businesses around Lake Street in Minneapolis that were damaged during recent protests.
The final product is also customizable and unique.
“What they’re doing with all of the submissions is they’re printing [an image of] each piece of art on a canvass panel and then the canvass panel will be auctioned off and that panel can be framed, or Inclusivi-tee has a line of products they call Shareables and those canvas panels could be put into the front of a tote bag, for example … so that you can change your look and put in a different panel,” Colburn said.
The Shareables line also boasts a jacket with a window on the back for the interchangeable patches.
Myren-Manbeck expressed sadness and a sense of purpose when talking about the auction.
“We believe that recovery efforts and collaboration should go beyond borders,” she said. “We also believe that working together and including everyone is key to a more successful future. Finally, we believe that art heals us, shows us who we are, and gives us a path to change. We have a lot of work to do before racial inequality is no longer a factor of everyday life. We believe every step in this direction, including an auction that honors diversity and inclusion, matters.”
Visit www.inclusivi-tee.com/artists-who-share to see a full list of participating artists, learn more, and RSVP for the auction.