As her headshot indicates, Naomi Pitcairn is FIERCE. Her fearlessness has been a signature quality for a long time: she competed at the highest level of a dangerous equine event and has painted billboards dozens of stories above ground in NYC as an art school graduate. Her latest calling is her most audacious yet: challenging the status quo with political art to jolt the public’s attention to social justice issues she believes are big threats to our democracy. At a time when most of us most of us have given up on the possibility of positive change, protesting can seem pointless and—judging from reports of police abuse—potentially life-threatening. Apathy, resignation, and cynicism are sadly society’s norm. What’s continually impressive to me about Naomi is her indefatigable creativity in the face of all that negative noise; she never stops singing her own tune—fuck ‘em if they don’t like her “voice,” at least it will make people stop and think. As you’ll read in her posts, her exuberance is so infectious, strangers off the street start “singing along” to advance her creations. Whether or not you agree with her politics, I think you have to agree her art-ivism is a potent form of jubilation in action. As the Fool in every Shakespearean play always has the pulse on what’s most important, Naomi’s art-ivism spotlights what really matters. Fierce Fools’ lives matter.
~Victoria C. Rowan, Ideasmyth Creatrix-in-Chief
Last Thursday (12/3/15) National Nurses United, a large and powerful nurses union, held a climate awareness rally in Pershing Square.“Nurses in the U.S. and around the world recognize that bold action is needed to challenge the political and economic power of the fossil fuel industry to win health and environmental justice in our communities, to mitigate global warming, and avert a full-scale climate crisis,” said National Nurses United Co-President Deborah Burger, RN. “The climate crisis is a public health crisis – it is already causing immeasurable human suffering and social devastation. Whatever the outcome in Paris, nurses will continue to work in our communities, nationally and internationally, to build the movement for environmental and climate justice; the health of our communities and our planet depend on it.”
They were excited to have us chalkupy until the Peshing Square park authorities told them that if we chalked their rally would be canceled and we’d be arrested for vandalism.
Rather than violate their permit, we decided to chalk on Friday instead. Then, a friend of ours, Anabella, introduced us to Sgt. Baker of LAPD who told us that the city attorney had ruled that chalking wasn’t vandalism and that the park officials were not being truthful.
We immediately went to challenge the park officials. They claimed it was a permit issue so we said “fine, we’ll chalk tomorrow when there’s no permit required.” They asked that we apply for a permit which we refused to do. Permits actually make you more vulnerable to arrest, if you violate the terms of the permit.
Ms. Galbraith asked, “Can you just work with us, Please?”
We showed her the art which she declared beautiful.
“What don’t you like about it?” we asked. “What would you want us to do differently?” (Besides get a permit!)
“Come chalk on Saturday when we are having a children’s party.”
“Okay,” we said.
“This is the best thing that happened to me all week,” said the other park official, Louise Capone. “You are part of the team now.”
OK. Not sure how that happened but here we are. They also left the chalk up instead of washing it away immediately like before.
What happens when chalking is accepted into the mainstream? Not sure but it looks like we’re going to find out.
~~~Naomi Pitcairn has a Masters in Design and Technology from Parsons School of Design. She has worked as a billboard painter, an illustrator, writer, monkey trainer and some other crazy things. She became radicalized when she saw police shooting directly at protestors who were trying to rescue an old lady with a teargas canister stuck under her wheelchair at Occupy Oakland. Nothing has been the same since.