Art Activism: Leadership Labs Honduras

The two day Leadership Labs event in San Pedro Sula explored art activism and building solidarities through creative practices; says María Alejandra Aguilar.

Centro de Estudios de la Mujer (CEM-H) supported by Restless Development organised a gathering called Knitting networks, painting fights. This was part of the Leadership Labs, and was hosted in San Pedro Sula. 41 activists and advocates travelled from around the country to share experiences. And the space awakened emotions, creativity and sorority.

The objective of the gathering was to knit networks and share collective fights. And to learn while doing art — what is art activism and how can we use it effectively.

“We recognise the importance of personal and collective dreams in the knitting of our life which supports us, which allows us to enjoy what we are, which helps us grow and be happy”,

Image of participants sitting in chairs in a row -- sharing their experiences of art activism.
Younger and older participants shared their experiences and stories fighting for their rights during the gathering.

The leadership Labs were designed as a space for intergenerational dialogues on feminism and LGBTQI+ movements. They welcomed activists, both independent and from organisations such as Nosotras la Preferimos Sencilla, Colectiva Mariposa 88, Ecuménicas por el Derecho a Decidir, la Batucada Feminista, and others.

The journey started with introductions. Followed by the first workshop “Dissidences”. In which participants learned basic concepts on the intersection between the feminist and the LGBTQI+ movements.

Day 1: Painting a Collective Mural.

One of the most important moments of the first workshop was the painting of a collective mural. The mural reflected each person’s fight, symbolic and personal ones. Each drawing claims “this is our fight”. An expression that encapsulates the collectivity, the sorority and the complicity among advocates. Particularly relevant in a State that continuously violates women’s rights.

One of the participants chose the butterfly as a “symbol of constant transformation”. Another one, a trans woman that works as a teacher, drew a chalkboard with the symbol for women and for men which shows her personal fight for an inclusive and integral sexual education.

Image of participants sitting on the floor infant of a large banner, which they are painting on.
The mural “This is our fight”, is an artwork that represents the solidarity between feminists and LGBTQI+ activists.

Day 2: Art Activism and Protest.

The second day was divided into two leadership labs: “You decide and share your voice” and “Knitting ourselves”. The first was a workshop about art as a way to protest and activism. Eunice Escoto, a known activist and Honduran artist, led this workshop. Participants developed the stencil technique and defined key messages to design and create bandanas they’ll be able to use during protests.

An image of a girl holding up a banner as part of her art activism.
One of the participants shows the message for her bandana reading “Life is too short to remain silent”

Some of the messages included: “Trans lives matters” and “Sex whenever I want it, pregnancy when I decide it”. This was a meaningful space for participants, particularly for those who don’t belong to organised groups. 

Dreams and Activism.

On the other hand, the workshop “Knitting ourselves” was a space for reflection and self-exploration to talk about individual and collective dreams. The workshop was facilitated by the organisation Paso a Paso. Participants of this workshop built an altar to honour their ancestors, those mentors that led feminist fights.

Surrounding the altar, participants dedicate words to their ancestors and reflect on the reasons for becoming activists.

During the remainder of the time, Paso a Paso facilitated a workshop on building dreamcatchers, an object meant to protect and capture any nightmares that interrupt the peace during sleep. Participants built their own dreamcatchers under the facilitators’ directions. Each step had a purpose and intention to explore our dreams.

One of Paso a Paso facilitators explains the process to knit a dreamcatcher.

Final Reflections.

Participants came together to close the gathering, we shared final reflections on how to keep on resisting from our different spaces. How do we keep on fighting and resisting as a collective facing the different attacks from the State, from our families, and even from those who call themselves allies? This was the final question that concluded this event that brought together women from different ages, regions, cultures, identities and fights into one collective fight.

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Art Activism: Leadership Labs Honduras

by Maria Aguilar Reading time: 3 min