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Advocacy Month 2024 Keynote Address and Art Installment

Be the Light or the Mirror that Reflects It

On Tuesday, March 5, 2024, The Center for Civic Engagement was excited to welcome Executive Director, Rosario Ubiera-Minaya and Community Engagement Manager, Michelle Richardson from Raw Art Works for the Annual Advocacy Month Keynote Address. “RAW" is a youth arts organization, rooted in art therapy.  At its core, RAW believes that all kids should be seen and heard and that everyone has a story to tell.

In this keynote Rosario and Michelle shared their life journey and how they used art as a vehicle to tell the stories of the people in their community, inspire positive changes in the North Shore, and reinforce why art is essential to the advocacy process. Art has been a powerful tool in social movements throughout time and continues to transform communities. Rosario shared about her life coming to Salem from the Dominican Republic and the challenges she faced. Her advocacy work in the arts started early in her career with a mural project with local youth. Little did she know this project would lead to the Punto Urban Art Museum. “Located in ‘El Punto’ Neighborhood in Salem, Mass, it features over 75 large scale murals by 30 world renowned and 25 local artists within a 3 block radius. The art aims to create neighborhood pride and increase economic opportunity for local businesses.” Rosario shared the impact of this work and how her advocacy journey led her to RAW Art Works and the influence the agency is having on youth in the City of Lynn.

Michelle then spoke about the world as it is and how society has become focused on labels and creating division in our communities locally and nationally. She shared the need for us  to accept ourselves for who we are and how we show up in the world. She collectively asked our campus community to chant, “I AM ENOUGH” and asked us to think about how we uniquely show up to be a light in this world to others. Lightworkers are needed during these dark times. She encouraged our campus community to write the STRONGEST parts of themselves, and write it in GOLD, representing the concept that even that smallest piece of us is golden…aka worth GOLD. On RED PAPER, she asked us to write the strongest part of ourselves to give strength to others. Red because we’ve all felt pain to some degree and we all bleed red…it’s a beautiful, bittersweet and an undeniable common denominator. On WHITE PAPER we were asked to write a message of HOPE/LOVE/LIGHT/EMPOWERMENT in SILVER, representing a silver lining or the silver thread of consciousness, as an uplifting message for any and all that look upon this lighthouse. These messages were then paper mache’d onto the lighthouse at the event prior to the final unveiling. The lighthouse now stands tall in front of a mirror. Michelle shares, “In essence YOU ARE THE LIGHT (the lighthouse is to be seen as SELF) - and on the mirror behind it will be the statement “Be the LIGHT or the MIRROR that reflects it!”

The lighthouse installation is currently located in the Salem State Fredrick E. Berry  library lobby near the Zine display. We encourage you to visit the lighthouse and be inspired by the words of our campus community. The installation will be on display until Friday, March 29, 2024.

To learn more about Advocacy Month and read our Keynote’s Bios


Katelyn Adams
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