Bianca Mercado is a young artivist, starting her first year at Salem State University this fall. After participating in an SJSA workshop in Cambridge, Bianca designed and created an entire quilt this past summer, entitled, "Activist ABCs." She loves hosting workshops, and enjoys helping bring young peoples artistic abilities!
Photos from a Workshop Bianca FACILITATED this summer with Sisters Unchained, a resource program for young women , with formerly or currently incarcerated parents.
"From the day I first learned about what social justice was, it has always been intersected by art and community. At 15, I had just began writing spoken word poetry and learning to make public art surrounding the sexualization of Latina women, and the black lives matter movement- which had just went viral that summer. Today, at 18, I am a self proclaimed 'artivist', still searching for ways to weave art, community, and activism into one piece that both engages and educates a community.
Part of the challenge with this quilt, was not only finding a term of or relating to social justice for every letter of the alphabet, but ensuring that the term was illustratable. For example, R was initially going to be for racism. Easy. But in the process of designing the block itself I began to question over and over, what does racism look like? I peered within myself for past experiences as a person of color, and tried to pay closer attention to the redlined community I live in, to understand how racism can be represented visually, and clearly. But ultimately, I learned to settle with the understanding that some things cannot be seen or felt, and I instead made a block for Rosa Parks, representing resistance directly in the face of oppression. This isn't to say that I "settled" for Rosa Parks, but rather I came to understand that some concepts are so difficult for some to comprehend because they are incapable of experiencing the system of oppression and are therefore unable to see it. The same process went as such for retired ideas like "Access to Free Healthcare", "Equity", "Justice" and "Gun Control"
There were two incredible things that I learned only after finishing this quilt. One, the great thing about not being able to put a theoretical face to systems of oppression such as xenophobia, and mass incarceration, is that I am instead able to recognize activists and ideas that perhaps wouldn't have been otherwise acknowledged, like 13 year old Zulaikha Patel who led a protest against her school system in response to their ban of natural hair in South Africa; Colorism, the descrimination of those with darker skin tones; And the 4 year long, almost forgotten water crisis of Flint, Michigan. Allowing these three ideas to be seen rather than more mainstream concepts, gives a chance for the viewer to learn about something new, which impacts the general public in a brand new way. The second incredible thing, is finally realizing that this quilt, and the Social Justice Sewing Academy in general, have both succeeded in finding that balance between activism, art, and community."