A statement from For the People Artists Collective:
We’ve recently been made aware of an article in Block Club Chicago that references a group called “For the People-Chicago” and their attempts to create a community garden on an old gas station site in Albany Park. Since the article was published, For the People Artists Collective has been tagged multiple times as this group on social media, and many community members have reached out to us for clarity. We want to make it very clear that For the People Artists Collective has noaffiliation or connection to this new group, whatsoever. According to the article, this new group has only been active since late January of this year, while we, For the People, have existed as a grassroots, Chicago-based artists collective, emphasizing arts as integral to activism and organizing since 2015. Our collective is comprised of queer, trans, and gender non-conforming Black folks, cis Black women and women of color, chronically-ill folks, freelancers, full-time organizers, artists, and working-class folks. We are not sure who the members of this other group are, and what ties, if any, they have to the communities they’re working in.
We are aware of the real and dire need for food in Albany Park, and food redistribution and community gardens are examples of critical mutual aid efforts that we applaud, but only when they are done with care and community input. Whenever possible, we encourage people to work in concert with existing, community-led efforts that prioritize collective care. Sustainability should also be a major concern, since limited resources should be deployed in a way that creates the greatest benefit for those most in need. Maximizing the good we do when serving our communities is more important than any individual group having its own branded project.
Our name, For the People Artists Collective, is inspired by the life and work of Emory Douglas, former Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party. Douglas thoughtfully practiced art in service of the people, creating prolific illustrations that both created and illuminated power and resistance in the Black community from 1967 into the 1980’s. We have been honored to do work rooted in community and grounded in the history of freedom movements in Chicago. As a small collective of artists who strive to uplift the beauty, strength and struggles of our people, we have centered connection to the past, present and future in all that we do, and have grappled with what it means to be transparent, connected and deserving of the trust of those who are most marginalized by our current system. We are in deep gratitude for the support of our work.
Our collective has been busy organizing emergency relief funds for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) artists, and creating graphics & posters for decarceration and environmental justice efforts. In our first round of emergency microgrants, we were able to redistribute $10,369 dollars to 49 BIPOC artists in Illinois, and we are set to distribute close to $11,000 more in our second round. Many of our artists have created posters to support the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) in their fight for justice after the recent explosion of the Crawford Coal Plant smokestacks during a respiratory pandemic, and also created graphics demanding #MassReleaseNow and #FreeThemAll, a decentralized effort to quickly release as many people as possible from jails, prisons, and detention centers across the state of Illinois. In collaboration with the Chicago Community Bond Fund, we've also launched Decarcerate Now: A Virtual Quilt Project, inviting artists to memorialize individuals who have died of COVID-19 inside Cook County Jail, challenging the consistent dehumanization of lives lost within the state’s walls by mainstream media. We appreciate everyone's efforts online in making sure our work remains distinct from this other group, and would greatly appreciate it in moving forward. Love and solidarity, For the People Artists Collective
Twitter - @ForThePeopleChi IG - @ForThePeopleArtists Facebook - @ForThePeopleCollective Website - ForThePeopleCollective.org If you would like to donate to sustain our efforts as an artists collective, you can do so via PayPal, where funds will be redistributed through our emergency relief funds and general operations.We also encourage folks to support food redistribution and community gardening efforts in Chicago, and hope that you will donate funds to young Native organizers in Chicago at Chi-Nations Youth Council. You can donate to their work via PayPal as well.