Regeneration with Shey Rivera
January 28 hosted the fourth conversation in the Regeneration series with Shey Rivera Ríos, an interdisciplinary artist, cultural strategist, and arts administrator. Take a look at this document with resources that were mentioned during the conversation to further your learning.
During their conversation, Shey emphasized how artists have the unique opportunity to shape our futures and impact policy through creative expression and collaboration. By telling historically censored stories, artists can help dismantle systemic oppression and nurture regeneration by creating diverse narratives that transform communities.
Shey’s projects epitomize this and the regenerative power of social and research based art practices. They shared how FANTASY ISLAND, a transmedia story about Puerto Rico, served as an anchor to build civic engagement around how selling a "fantastical" luxury lifestyle twists humanitarian crises into “opportunity.” With their project Stormwater, a mixed-media installation piece in Olneyville, Providence, RI, Shey aimed to bring awareness to the environmental issue of storm runoff in urban settings. These are only a few of the many ways that Shey merges their creative practice with social action.
When discussing the social responsibility that we carry as creators and thinkers, Shey asked, “What are the futures that you are pushing for when you create art? Who is your art speaking to? How can your art stop perpetuating harm and systems of oppression?” As creatives, we need to address these questions and develop a culture of care taking within our communities and collaborations. In speaking more on the transformative power of art, Shey said that “art can reimagine what monuments look like, rewrite histories that we’ve been carrying that no longer serve us, [and challenge] the singular narrative… We [can] expand our own brains and challenge our society to think outside the box.”
We each have agency and we can collectively use our voices to improve our shared futures. It takes emotional energy to create the spaces that heal us and speak to our authenticity. As we work towards this and aim to improve the next decade, take Shey’s words to heart: “Show appreciation to yourself….[and] create narratives that heal you.”