May | How do artists support large NGO’s?

I recently participated in WorldVision’s Acting On Aids Summit On The Hill and Sojourners Mobilization to End Poverty Conference out in Washington DC.  Both events were designed to ramp up people’s involvement with advocacy for the poor and to actually go meet with their states representatives to lobby for initiatives that benefit the poor nationally and worldwide. 

With Acting On Aids, I painted alongside fantastic Josh Garrels during an evening concert, painted with Scott Bessenecker from Intervarsity as he shared his thoughts on advocacy, and hosted a seminar with Josh about being a creative advocate.  This event was focused on college students from around the nation.

My involvement with Sojourners was a bit different. Their conference was a large event at the Washington Convention center and involved a lot of big named people from around the nation.  My part was small as Caitlin Beidler and I painted during the worship response time.  Not that I wasn’t thankful to be there.  It was a great pleasure to work alongside Martin Smith from Delirious and Vicky Beeching as they led in music.  Basically, good times all around.

Want I really want to write about was an interesting conversation that I had with Aaron Graham (one of the greatest people in the world) from Sojourners.  I’ve been thinking about this conversation and I would love some in put from you if you have any thoughts.

During my time in DC, I wandered down to the national portrait gallery and saw some amazing work. Currently they have a folk art exhibit that was very powerful in it’s portrayal of racism, sexism, and many other realities that we face in this country.  It got me thinking about the power of art and it’s role in society.  Along with that experience, someone shared with me this quote that I can’t remember word for word. But it’s by Daniel Berrigan and it’s along the lines of “if a movement isn’t creating/producing art, it’s not really a movement.”

So I’m talking to Aaron the last night of the conference and I share with them this quote and this thought: If this quote is true, and a group like Sojourners is doing a great work on poverty issues… trying to motivate the Church into action on such subjects, then how does and artist like me help with that? And how does a large organization like Sojourners utilize artists in their work?

Aaron had a great twofold response. One is that for most large organizations, the way in which they really only utilize artists is along the lines of branding and design.  This is a really good point, and I think a legitimate way that art can be a powerful communicator through things like film and design.  But as for artists like me and others, his second response is he doesn’t know. 

And I don’t know either.

Film and design are huge influencers in our society today, so maybe that’s all that large non-profits really need.  A lot of visual 2-d art like painting really just comes from the inspiration and particular desire of the individual artist.  There are paintings that we could probably just pick out that have to do with poverty issues that they could use to represent the work of a non-profit.  But it seems that great work really just comes from the artist wrestling with an issue and then trying to manifest that struggle. 

I guess large organizations could commission artists to do work, host art shows, stuff like that.  I’m sure there would be some push back from supporters wondering why they would waste money on art instead of directly putting it into the field.  Point taken.  I would push back and say a great part of the work of the NGO is to tell the story of why they are doing what they are doing and to touch the hearts of those who would support their work.  Artists are storytellers.  So they are utilizing the power of art storytelling. 

So that’s one idea. Anybody got any other ideas?

Questions I’m thinking about:

What does art from a movement look like?

How and why was it created?

Who made the work?

Who are our movement artists today?



1. Thanks to Holly Strand ( for most of these great photos over the weekend in DC.

2. A film crew from WorldVision was at the conference and took me aside and did a little interview about being a creative advocate. Here it is….



June 1-31 | Art Show | Ballard Cafe Verite

I’ve been working for a couple months on new paintings. I will be showing at Cafe Verite for the month of June, most likely having an artist reception on the second saturday of June, during the Ballard ArtWalk



Wow.  Round 50.  It’s been a long haul and the Round keeps getting better and better.  To celebrate, we are taking it out of the Fremont Abbey and going to Seattles swanky Triple Door. Here’s the line up:

Music: Damien jurado, Jesse Sykes, Seattle Rock Orchestra, and special guest

Painters: Glen Case (does the Easy Street Records murals, me, and one other painter

Poets: Buddy wakefield and Youth Speaks poet


Tickets $12 adv/$15 day. Click Here.



Cheers Ya’ll




About scotterickson

curator of awesomeness
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