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The Intersection of Art and Activism: How Creativity Drives Social Change

Updated: Jun 18

Lashawn Marston, Robert Harvey, Walter "Chick" Alston at My Inaugural Community Appreciation Day.

Art and activism have always shared a powerful bond, using creativity to ignite change and inspire communities. I, Lashawn "Suga Ray" Marston, am proud to embody this intersection as a world healer. I champion "heartavism"—a unique blend of art, activism, social justice, and human rights. Through my work, I strive to influence community change, draw attention to crucial social issues, and foster a sense of unity and empowerment.

Lashawn Marston: A Global Healer and Heartavist

I like to refer to myself as a world healer. My approach, which I call "heartavism," integrates art, activism, social justice, and human rights to address social injustices and promote healing within communities. My daily activities reflect my commitment to this mission.

  • Monday to Friday: I host a live talk show on TikTok, engaging with a global audience on pressing social issues.

  • Wednesdays: I lead a group of young filmmakers and criminal justice reform advocates in meditation and wellness practices through the "Echoes of Incarceration" organization and “PPP Program” that I developed, which means, Presence Propels Performance. 

  • Weekly: As part of my partnership with Connected Chef, a Queens, NYC-based food justice organization, I head up a lifeline grocery good hub and farm stand in Queensbridge, the neighborhood I grew up in, providing free cooked vegan food, as well as grocery boxes filled with fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs, and grains to anyone who wants. We also have a sliding scale formula if folks want to either purchase a grocery box (we only do 35 free boxes a week), or they can purchase produce from our urban farm stand that's also out every week. 

  • Together We Heal: I facilitate a weekly grief support group, offering a safe space for individuals to share and heal.

Art as a Catalyst for Social Change

My recent multi-media art exhibit, "Hungry For Justice: Art, Activism, & The Fight For The Queensboro People's Space," perfectly encapsulates my commitment to using art as a tool for activism, as well as allowing my activism to be an extension of my art. Held at the Diego Salazar building in Long Island City, Queens, the exhibit drew a diverse crowd, including my mom, childhood friends, newer friends, and even a dog, lol!

Exhibit Highlights:

  • Photos from My Hunger Strike: Capturing the emotional and physical journey of my 2-week hunger strike.

  • Paintings Inspired by the Hunger Strike: Visual interpretations of the struggle and determination experienced during the protest.

  • The Actual Outfit Worn During the Hunger Strike: A tangible piece of history symbolizing resilience.

  • Short Documentary: Comprising photos and videos taken during the hunger strike, offering an intimate look into the action.

The exhibit not only showcased my artistic talents and creative vision, but also highlighted the profound impact of combining art with activism to advocate for social justice.

Historical Examples of Art and Activism

The fusion of art and activism is not a new phenomenon. Throughout history, artists have used their work to challenge the status quo and drive social change.

  • The Civil Rights Movement: Artists like Jacob Lawrence and Romare Bearden depicted the struggles and triumphs of African Americans, using their work to support the movement.

  • Anti-War Protests: During the Vietnam War, artists such as Yoko Ono and John Lennon used their art to protest against violence and advocate for peace.

  • Guernica by Pablo Picasso: Picasso's masterpiece, created in response to the bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War, remains a powerful anti-war statement.

These historical examples demonstrate how art can serve as a powerful medium for expressing dissent, raising awareness, and inspiring collective action.

Contemporary Artists Merging Art and Activism

Today, many artists continue to follow in the footsteps of their predecessors, using their creativity to address modern social issues.

  • Banksy: The elusive street artist known for his provocative and politically charged murals.

  • Ai Weiwei: A Chinese artist and activist who uses his art to criticize the Chinese government and advocate for human rights.

  • JR: A French street artist whose large-scale photographic installations highlight the stories of marginalized communities around the world.

  • Uncutt Art: An NYC based street artist who spray paints messages of love and positivity throughout the country, encouraging folks to protect their hearts, love themselves, and be better humans to each other.

I stand among these contemporary artists, using my unique blend of heartavism to drive social change and promote community healing.

The Impact of My Work

My work has a profound impact on the communities I serve. By combining art with activism, I create spaces for dialogue, reflection, and healing. My initiatives, such as the weekly lifeline grocery hub and the "Together We Heal" grief support group, address both immediate needs and long-term emotional well-being.

Key Impacts:

  • Raising Awareness: My art and activism bring attention to critical social issues, from criminal justice reform to food insecurity.

  • Empowering Communities: My projects empower individuals to take action and participate in creating positive change.

  • Fostering Healing: Through my support groups and wellness practices, I promote mental and emotional health within my community.

How to Support My Work

There are several ways you can support me and my mission of heartavism:

  1. Fund My Initiatives: Donations can help sustain my community projects and art exhibits.

  2. Hire Me to Speak: My experiences and insights make me a compelling speaker for events, conferences, and workshops.

  3. Sponsor My Art: By sponsoring my art projects, you can help amplify my message and reach a wider audience.

Supporting me means contributing to a movement that uses creativity to heal, empower, and drive social change.

The intersection of art and activism is a powerful space where creativity meets social justice. I exemplify this through my unique blend of heartavism, using my art to advocate for change and foster community healing. By supporting my work, funders, non-profit leaders, and sponsors can help amplify my impact and contribute to a more just and compassionate world.

For more information about my work and to explore opportunities for support, visit my website at 

Remember, the best way to contribute to making the world a better place, is to make yourself the best version of you. That's the way! Keep striving for optimal health. Together, we are healing the world!

See ya'll soon!

Peace and Love,

Lashawn "Suga Ray" Marston


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