Art and Activism Collide in West Louisville

The nonprofit's goal is to give everyone a platform. That could be using their space to hang artwork, present spoken word, or just have a conversation.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS 11) - There’s a non-profit in West Louisville that is trying to help break through segregation of all sorts. It can be hard to get people of different ages, races, backgrounds, and beliefs to all work together in the same room, but it’s happening on a regular basis at 1619 Flux: Art + Activism.

It's been said that art doesn’t have to be pretty, it just has to be meaningful. At 1619 Flux, it’s both.

“We’re showing different kinds of artwork that has social justice themes, so that’s a merging of art and activism,” explained founding director Kara Nichols.

The nonprofit’s goal is to give everyone a platform. That could be using their space to hang artwork, present spoken word, or just have a conversation.

“I had kind of a striking reaction to, how segregated I felt our city was on multiple levels,” explained Kara. She came up with the idea for 1619 Flux when she moved back to Louisville after living in Chicago. “I tried to think, what are sustainable ways that would make people from different areas of the city, different races, different socioeconomic backgrounds come together, and that’s where art came in.”

Kara’s plan was to bring everyone together, so she crossed over ninth street and found a building in the Portland Neighborhood.

 “There’s so much of a need for that because people have so much to say,” she said.

And now they have a place to say it. Below are just a few comments people made during an open session.

“I don’t think we’re going to be able to legislate our way out of our situation, you know, it gets us closer. It makes hateful actions unlawful, but really making a change, a real change, it’s changing people’s hearts,” said

“People make comments like I need to move, this is getting like the West End it shows that there’s not that empathy and that concern and that compassion”

“There are different prejudices that Craig is going to face and that I’m going to face. I am never going to truly understand what he faces because I am not him.”

“I don’t think it’s wrong to see my color. In fact, I think it’s important for you or anyone who is wanting to be an advocate and an ally to understand who I am in order to help be better.”

For the last several months 1619 Flux: Art + Activism has been used to hold an event called connecting conversations.

“It’s a mix of people, and you feel safe when you come here. It’s intergenerational, it’s interracial, it’s very diverse and you can say what you want to say,” explained 86-year-old Elmer Lucille Allen. She’s been attending all of the conversations and is still fighting for her West End neighborhood. “In order to stay active, and to keep your mind going, you have to be able to communicate with young people and be able to talk about other things”

The atmosphere is welcoming, your ideas matter.

“They have more in common with people who are from other areas of the city than they thought they would,” said Kara.

Perhaps the words of Martin Luther King posted as soon as you enter say it best, “We may have all come on different ships but we are in the same boat now.”

If you’d like to go to an exhibit, conversation, or learn more about 1619 Flux: Art + Activism, head over to their website here.

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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