There are many forms of activism in the world, and one of our favorites is through the medium of art. We have no doubt that every single person reading this right now could recall a piece of art, music or creativity that has been a vehicle to share an important political message, whether overt or subtle, which is the power of using art as a means to create change.
We have showcased a number of artists using their talents to spread awareness about various topics, especially those who are passionate about feminism and gender equality. UK artist Andre Veloux is one of said artists, whose series of iconic women and women’s bodies developed in a LEGO-style format, is paying homage to women around the world who are expanding the feminist message.
As a male ally to the cause, Andre’s ‘Building Blocks of Change’ “explores the way women are viewed by the media and society’s expectations of them”, as outlined on his website. He was interviewed by Jasmin Hernandez on Konbini.com, a global web destination for all things pop culture, who praised his approach to furthering the gender equality conversation.
“Using a pop culture scope layered with a hyper-stylized aesthetic, Veloux produces visually-seductive pieces commenting on beauty, fashion choices, and societal pressures inflicted on women. The technical qualities of the Lego blocks, being that they are durable, lightweight and interchangeable, correlates to the many identities and roles women have to deploy to navigate in society,” she wrote.
Andre explained to Jasmin that once he decided on using LEGOs to construct the images, he chose to focus on women who have been furthering the cause of gender equality around the world and throughout history.
“Female icons are at the very forefront of the women’s rights movement because of all the things that these women have achieved and the circumstances in which they achieved them. Women leaders in all fields, be it political, scientific, business, artistic or humanitarian are under intense and constant scrutiny,” he said.
A description on Andre’s website explains how the use of LEGO as not coincidental, but very intentional.
“The use of these small, plastic bricks that some people have lying around their homes immediately registers with viewers of the art. Yet the changability of these artworks, whether they be representations of objects, figurative art, or portraits either of well-known icons or others, highlights the plasticity of the building blocks, which can be taken apart and rebuilt, and the way we create and model icons, ourselves and objects in our ever-changing society,” it says.
His work has been featured in a number of group shows, most recently as part of the ‘Emerging to Established’ exhibition at the Krause Gallery in New York, but he plans to eventually launch more solo shows to display even more of the women in his series.
He will be featured in another group show at the Parlor Gallery in NYC before the end of 2016, as well as his 4th Krause Gallery show starting on Jan 3rd. Some of the women featured include Jane Fonda, Malala Yousafzai, and Lady Gaga, and he plans to add even more such as Emma Watson, Tori Amos, RBG, Yoko Ono, and Hillary Clinton.
In order for feminism to continue its work around the world, we need men to be part of the conversation and engaging in the issues that need to be tackled in order for gender equality to be a complete reality. The acknowledgement that equality benefits men is something that also should be emphasized and understood by male allies. Clearly, Andre Veloux gets it – empowered women are not a threat to men.
“As an artist and as an individual, I am standing up for women’s rights, equality and empowerment, and I feel part of that movement that is ongoing today. Art should be at the forefront of change in society; at its best, it raises important questions and becomes part of the process of change,” he told Jasmin.
It should also be noted that even within the art world, there are many women speaking out about how they are extremely underrepresented at galleries and in major art spaces globally, so an artist like Andre using his platform to comment on feminism and iconic women creating change is needed.
“The iconic works speak for themselves in celebrating women who are role models and agents of change, the other elements of Building Blocks of Change are commenting on the grossly disproportionate attitudes towards women as compared to men in society,” he said.
Having a daughter has opened his eyes to the daily realities facing women, he divulges, and it is part of why he wanted to explore the contentious politics around women’s bodies in his series. The viral video created by non-profit organization Hollaback in 2014 showing a woman walking around NYC for 10 hours being continually harassed, despite lack of provocation or reaction, also touched a nerve with Andre and inspired his ‘Appearance’ series.
“I strongly remember [the] video that influenced me.At the same time, my daughter was making her own fashion decisions, as well as grappling with school dress codes that were gender specific. These led me to want to challenge the whole concept of how women are judged, sexualized and very often harassed on a daily basis. The argument is presented by the simplicity of taking an image of a woman, disembody an element of it and present it as art,” he explained.
Part of his message in this series is that no matter what a woman is wearing, it does not constitute consent in any shape or form.
Proceeds from one of his pieces called ‘Strawberry’ were donated to Womanspace, a non-profit based out of New Jersey, that benefits victims of domestic violence, something which Andre considers an important aspect of his work.
“It’s inspiring to meet firsthand the people who run vital organizations such as Womanspace, and find out more about their mission. It keeps me in touch with the really big issues behind gender equality, and only drives me to work harder at what I want to achieve. Domestic violence and sexual abuse are the inevitable consequence in many cases of societies treatment of women,” he said.
To learn more about woke bae Andre Veloux, his work and his upcoming shows, visit his website where you can also find links to his social media accounts. You can also read his entire interview with Konbini by clicking here. Watch Andre in action in the video below, creating his piece ‘Strawberry’: