Artist Changemaker Program

Toni Cade Bambara
The role of the artist is to make the revolution irresistible.

The Artist Changemaker Program at Global Fund for Women supports artists who are making the gender justice revolution irresistible by using their art as a tool for new visions of the world, where equity and equality for all is a reality.

The program is part of Global Fund for Women’s commitment to support movements, and offers eight artists annually a one-time, unrestricted financial award to each artist with a focus on artists based in the Global South, women artists, LGBTQI+ people, people of color, and/or artists from a marginalized community.

Global Fund for Women has supported grassroots gender justice organizations who are working at the intersection of art and activism for nearly 30 years. Since 1994, we have supported more than 200 organizations in 80 countries worldwide who use art as a strategy for social change. In 2014, Global Fund for Women merged with the International Museum of Women, launching award-winning creative online advocacy campaigns including Muslima: Muslim Women’s Art & Voices, DefendHer, featuring women human rights defenders around the globe, and most recently Fundamental: Gender Justice. No Exceptions, an Emmy-nominated series of docu-shorts featuring gender justice movement leaders in five countries.

MEET THE ARTIST CHANGEMAKERS

We are thrilled to introduce our inaugural Artist Changemaker award recipients.

 

LUJAIN JO

FILMMAKER  |   IRAQ & LEBANON
Lojain Jo

Lujain Jo (she/her/hers) is an Iraqi filmmaker, activist, and performance artist currently living in Lebanon. As part of her strong interest in the manifestations of movement in life, her work includes collaborations with musicians and dancers such as Michaela DePrince and Khansa. She has also worked with multiple media platforms and organizations from Megaphone News and Anti-Racism-Movement to Khateera and Amnesty International on issues related to social movements, migrant workers, police brutality, and feminism. Watch more of Lujain’s work on Vimeo, follow her on Instagram, and read a short interview with her below.

Lujain Jo
I fought for my freedom and was able to work in film and be behind the camera, which made me feel responsible to use every tool I have to challenge the authorities that control our bodies, our minds and our ability to dream.

What role do you think art can play in social change, activism, and movements?

Lujain Jo: Appealing to the audience's emotions, art can be used as a powerful tool to shed light on social and political issues, as well as critique the systems we live under in a creative way. Art allows us to tell stories that empower others to make change and think critically about social narratives. I believe that storytelling shapes our realities and ways of thinking. From the story of an apple in a garden to Disney films about princesses in castles, stories shaped our view of the world and have informed much of our relationships around us, such as assigning gender roles, perceiving those who are different to us, and framed our relationship to other species and the Earth. Artists hold responsibility to challenge existing norms, politics and societies and amplify the voices of those who don't have the tools to do so.

How would you describe your artistic practice amplifying social movements in your communities and/or those your work is concerned with?

As a woman who was brought up in a strict household, I was taught that women should assume certain roles and not question the authority that enforces these roles. I never understood why I can’t have the same dreams and ambitions as men in society. I always wanted to be involved in cinema, but I was not allowed to imagine that or express that dream. I fought for my freedom and was able to work in film and be behind the camera, which made me feel responsible to use every tool I have to challenge the authorities that control our bodies, our minds, and our ability to dream. I often use my camera and my storytelling to shed light on women-related issues and to help marginalized groups in their fight for their rights. I don’t think that artists give others a voice but rather amplify their voices in a creative and emotional way.

KEARRA AMAYA GOPEE

ANTI-DISCIPLINARY ARTIST  |  TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO & USA
Kearra Amaya Gopee

Kearra Amaya Gopee (they/them/theirs) is an anti-disciplinary visual artist from Carapichaima, Kairi (the larger of the twin island nation known as Trinidad and Tobago), living and working on Tongva land (Los Angeles, CA). Explore Kearra’s website and follow them on Instagram to learn more about their work, and read a brief interview with Kearra below.

Kearra Amaya Gopee
Art made in collaboration with the artist’s community can be impactful. It is also important to note, however, that beauty is often not enough. When we ask ourselves, ‘What does my community need to be successful in their campaigns?’ we are able to create work that is beautiful, well-informed, and responsive.

How would you describe your artistic practice amplifying social movements in your communities and/or those your work is concerned with?
Kearra Amaya Gopee: It is not so much that my practice amplifies social movements, but more that it works in conversation with them. My work attempts to consider the myriad qualities of violence present in Black, queer and/or Caribbean communities as an observer/participant. Through this act, I reflect, celebrate, and posit us with new questions that might encourage healing and/or dissent.

What do you hope to achieve through this award?
Reduce my debt. Maintaining an artist’s studio can be expensive, and often times, it requires additional funding to make ends meet. Unrestricted awards such as this one can be quite beneficial then, as it requires an organization to understand that art is not made in a vacuum, and that sometimes the most helpful thing one can do for an artist is not only tending to the creation of their work but also their material needs.

Kearra Amaya Gopee is the recipient of the 2021 Denise Allen Emerging Artist Award for Global Fund for Women’s Artist Changemaker program. The Denise Allen Emerging Artist Award is given to one Artist Changemaker annually in memory of long-time Global Fund for Women and International Museum of Women supporter Denise Allen, in honor of her passion for the arts and social justice.

MEET THE ARTIST CHANGEMAKER ADVISORY COUNCIL

The program is shaped by our Artist Changemaker Advisory Council, a group of feminist creatives, artists, and activists whose work transcend borders, cultures, and disciplines.

1_Dayna Ash
3_Ashara Ekundayo
5_Aweqawe Mda
7_Shilo Shiv Suleman
9_Marissa
2_Amina Doherty
4_Priya Kvam
6_Esra'a Al Shafei
8_Aisha Shillingford
10_Polina Vyzhak

Members of the Artist Changemaker Advisory Council join Global Fund for Women in imagining a world where movements for gender justice have transformed privilege and power for a few into equity and equality for all. Artist Changemaker Advisory Council members recognize and commit to a set of Guiding Principles in our shared work as they shape Global Fund for Women's Artist Changemaker Program.