This fall, spoken word artists from across Oregon applied to MRG’s Lilla Jewel Fund for Women Artists. All of the artists wowed the selection committee with their talent and their passion for social change, but we could only select one. We are excited to announce Claudia Alick as the 2014 Lilla Jewel Artist! Claudia is a powerful performer who uses her art to inspire people to see the world in new ways and to promote social justice ideals.
“I applied because the application came to me from six different people and I like to listen to the universe,” says Claudia. “I’m constantly dissatisfied with the world and want to fix it. And I am so glad that there are groups like MRG Foundation doing the work that needs to be done.”
A storyteller for change
Claudia is a passionate spoken word performer who draws inspiration from her personal life and experience. She incorporates race, ethnicity, gender, and disability into her art and highlights the aspects of her and her audience’s identity that provide – or do not provide – privilege.
“My work is autobiographical and focuses on the truths that occur to me as I’m living my life,” says Claudia. “But I cover my truth in honey – it’s sticky, it’s sweet, and it’s super fun.”
Claudia seeks to be a catalyst for social change through her art and she creates spaces where difference can live and be acknowledged, where people can dialogue, and where divergent experiences and ideas can come together to form a powerful narrative. She is a cheerleader and, especially, a storyteller for the work of social justice activists.
At the same time that her performances tackle complex issues, Claudia incorporates humor into a serious social change message.
“I’m passionate about my political positions. I do a lot of research. But most of my work is pretty humorous.” Claudia adds, “As a woman of color, I often laugh so I don’t cry.”
Activist, producer, director, and performer
Claudia has been both a volunteer with community groups and an artist as far back as she can remember and she has always integrated the two in her artistic work.
In addition to her spoken word performances, Claudia is the associate producer at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) in Ashland, where she creates and curates works in collaboration with the local community. From Ashland’s Dr. King holiday celebration to fundraisers for student scholarships, Claudia’s work is a collective effort toward sparking social change.
“One of the reasons I was excited to join OSF is that allows me to activate culture change,” Claudia says. “It’s often subtle – but it’s a powerful thing to help folks realize that their preconceptions might not be based in reality.”
Art and social change
Art can be a powerful tool for those who experience injustice to explore their experiences, share them with peers and policy makers, and inspire social change. MRG’s Lilla Jewel Fund for Women Artists promotes the work of women artists, particularly women of color and queer women, who advance a social change message through their art.
“The competition for this award was intense but the committee unanimously agreed that Claudia was the best choice for this year’s Justice within Reach. We know those who attend this year’s event will find Claudia to be an insightful, witty, and engaging performer,” said Jeff Selby, chair of the Justice within Reach Committee.
Claudia will perform at Justice within Reach on May 10, 2014.