THE 14TH ANNUAL SHORTY AWARDS

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Special Project

Special Project NEW!

Move Into the Future: An Abundance Sculpture

Entered in Racial Equality

Objective

For years white supremacists have used mass media to drive racist scarcity narratives into our communities, even using it as a wedge to turn young Latinx men against their loved ones and other communities of color via disinformation leading up to the elections. Their goal is to interrupt allyship and the ability to fight together when our communities come under attack.

Move Into the Future: An Abundance Sculpture is a colorful and imaginative display of both historical and forward-looking visual artwork done by Black, Indigenous, and Latinx artists on the theme of abundance. Abundance is the understanding that there is more than enough to go around for all of us, no matter our race or immigrant status or any other identifier, and we should help others without fear. Whatever our community needs, our communities can provide. 

This sculpture came to life in the wake of a pandemic that deeply impacted–and continues to impact–immigrants and Black, Latinx, Indigenous people and people of color. Our aims were to (1) shift the values and behaviors of Black, Latinx, Indigenous youth and youth of color from internalized scarcity, xenophobia, exceptionalism, and individualism, to abundance and collective care; knowing that no one’s fight for justice can be fought alone, (2) build cultural power through strategic collaboration with high profile Black, Latinx, Indigenous and immigrant artists, along with a marketing plan that engages Black and Latinx micro-influencers (immigrant and non-immigrant), and (3) create new ties between people of color that build communities of abundance.

Strategy

Move Into the Future: An Abundance Sculpture was executed through the collaboration of United We Dream, Black Lives Matter: Houston, Big Bowl of Ideas (a creative public affairs production company), and SOZE Marketing (ad agency). 

The sculpture started as an idea – visually and creatively representing the interconnected fight for justice among Black, Indigenous, and immigrant communities, and doing so in a way that allowed for community to unite in public again, after a series of isolated years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and not just for the sake of sharing space, but doing so in a way that sparked transformation. 

After considering several site options for the sculpture, weighing levels of accessibility, neighborhood composition, and effectiveness in thoroughly engaging the community, we decided on Emancipation Park because of its location in 3rd Ward, a predominantly Black and brown neighborhood, and its role as an important green space in the community.

The idea to design the shoe came from a desire to move together into the future as one, but do so in a way that does not compromise our individual histories, and rather celebrates the links and shared experiences as jumping off points for informed collaboration and world-building. We wanted to create something that spoke to us as young people as well, and that we valued, like how our shoes show our style and represent us. 

The sculpture also featured portraits of United We Dream’s very own immigrant youth members, alongside members of Black Lives Matter: Houston. Altogether, the artwork wove together BIPOC and immigrant histories in an effort to spark solidarity, healing, and the learning needed within and across our communities to protect one another and embrace abundance as we move into the future together. The artists interpreted racial justice as immigrant justice and the visions of an interconnected future in their corresponding artwork tessellations on the sculpture. 

We devised a program that invited new and current members alike to partake in a range of activities, from writing poetry collectively to coloring to a Q&A with a participating sculpture artist, in order to make sure as many people as possible can engage in art that introduces and affirms a view of interconnectedness and racial justice as immigrant justice.

Having been limited by COVID-19 in our ability to host as many people as possible in Emancipation Park given pandemic safety precautions, we proactively invested in a 360 virtual tour of the sculpture & microsite to allow for interaction beyond the in-person launch. We also developed an original ad series, both digital and out of home, that activated our online audience to contribute to the visit our campaign microsite and attend the in-person launch.

We ensured this work was not transactional and that we would be able to land this complex messaging by working closely with SOZE and the influencers to develop various versions of the messaging. Influencers deeply understood the concepts and translated them into original and creative storytelling that divulged their personal immigration stories and ties to abundance.

Results

Move Into the Future: An Abundance Sculpture garnered views from millions of people, both in Houston and virtually. Through our collaboration with SOZE marketing, our reach totaled 12,053,947, and 1.8 million impressions via TikTok. We successfully engaged influencers like Maya Abdallah, Jesús Morales, and Samuel Everett.

Launched during Black History Month and with the collaboration of Black Lives Matter: Houston, this project exemplified the community care we need to nurture in order to arrive at a more equitable future. Brandon Mack, Lead Organizer with BLM: Houston, expressed that his membership resonated deeply with the content, especially considering Texas is third in states with the largest growing population of Black immigrants. With all recent U.S. population growth coming from people of color, and even still white supremacists out to eliminate our voices from school curriculums and the public sphere, this sculpture is powerful in affirming experiences and encouraging unity rather than division over supposedly scarce resources.

Of our digital programming with artist Alex Arzu, people responded, “...I loved hearing Alex’s story. I could relate a lot as an artist, an immigrant kid, and someone who’s currently trying to find their place in the world… Seeing others who look like me or have a background similar to mine make art and display it to the world is a way to celebrate culture… Looking back at how far we’ve come is super inspiring. Using our voices, sharing our stories…it's all a way to find joy and celebrate all the abundance we have.” 

Media

Video for Move Into the Future: An Abundance Sculpture

Entrant Company / Organization Name

United We Dream Network

Links

Entry Credits