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Re:FORM: Artists Against the Drug War

Using art as a vehicle for social change.
 
 
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 I have written before about the importance of the visual artist's role as social commentator and activist in society. The creation of art can be powerful tool for raising public awareness that can result in positive social and political change. Picasso, Diego Rivera, Goya and many others have used the canvas to paint bold political statements that affect the world.

 

Recently, the entertainer Sting, whose fantastic voice paints words like works of art, has joined the effort to raise awareness about the war on drugs. It's exciting that a long-time activist like Sting has chosen to step forward on this issue. The response was great because few public policies have undermined fundamental civil rights and liberties, social justice and public health for so long and to such an extent as the war on drugs.

 

On May 17, Sikkema Jenkins & Co. will host an art auction and cocktail party to benefit the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), the nation's leading organization promoting alternatives to the drug war that are grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights. Re:FORM represents the third installment in a groundbreaking partnership between the art world and the drug policy reform movement, following the first two successful events in 2005 and 2008. Donald Baechler and Fred Tomaselli are Artist Co-chairs. Honorary Co-Chairs are film director Darren Aronofsky and philanthropic art supporters Peter Lewis, George Soros, and Elizabeth Sackler. The event will honor longtime advocate Artie Malkin who has been at the forefront of dozens of successful legislative campaigns, including the reform of the Rockefeller Drug Laws. Contributing artists include Kara Walker, John Waters, Petah Coyne and many others.

 

The U.S. now has the highest incarceration rate in the world -- one American adult out of every 100 is currently behind bars. The United States makes up less than 5 percent of the world's population but close to 25 percent of the world's incarcerated population. More than half a million people are behind bars tonight for nothing more than a drug law violation. More than 750,000 Americans were arrested last year for simple marijuana possession. The drug war even targets sick and dying Americans, thousands of whom are regularly denied access to medical marijuana, a medication with proven medical benefits for the treatment of a wide range of serious illnesses. This art auction benefit is inspired by past artists who have used art as a vehicle for social change. It is our hope that this show will enlighten others to join us in our attempt to stop the madness of the war on drugs.

 

For more information about this important event please visit  http://www.drugpolicy.org/auction  

 

Anthony Papa, author of 15 To Life: How I Painted My Way To Freedom , is a communications specialist for the Drug Policy Alliance .

 
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