Four artists with PCA&D ties tapped to create Lancaster Votes campaign

A get-out-the-vote effort that’s soon blanketing our region turns out to have some pretty close ties to PCA&D.

All four artists commissioned to create unique works for Lancaster Votes are either alumni, instructors, or tied in some other way to the College:

  • Salina Almanzar, an instructor with PCA&D’s Center for Creative Exploration, also is a member of the adjunct faculty at Drexel University in Philadelphia and a photo tech for Franklin & Marshall College. You can see more of her work here.
  • Keisha Finnie, a Lancaster-based artist, this summer spearheaded several projects in the College’s Art Garden. She incorporated the College’s “&” sculpture into a collaborative art piece reflecting the Black Lives Matter movement. You can see more of her work here.
  • Dyneisha Gross ’20, Graphic Design, is currently the lead graphic designer for Attollo in Lancaster. Named a Student to Watch by Graphic Design USA as a senior, she also led PCA&D’s Student Council during the 2019-2020 academic year. You can find more of her work here.
  • Osmyn Oree ’11, Photography, is an Admissions Department counselor for PCA&D and a professional photographer. You can find a portfolio of his work here.

The public artwork is the result of a drive organized by the nonpartisan organization Lancaster Votes. Its mission, according to Stacie Blake, CEO of YWCA Lancaster, is “to promote voter registration in a non-partisan effort.” Nearly 30 local organizations, from the Lancaster Chamber, Lancaster Public Library, and United Way of Lancaster County, to the YWCA of Lancaster, CASA, and NAACP Lancaster Branch, are involved in Lancaster Votes. It’s funded by individual donations, the Lancaster County Community Foundation, and the non-partisan League of Women Voters of Lancaster County.

“I initially commissioned Salina and Keisha for this project, given their artistic skill, and especially because they are Black and Brown women,” says Fran Rodriguez, Senior Program Officer with the Lancaster County Community Foundation. After speaking more with Almanzar, she says, “we both agreed the project would be amplified by adding graphic design and photography.”

Posters of the four artists’ work, Blake says, will be displayed at local businesses, as door hangers in communities, and on yard signs leading up to the Nov. 3 election.

Here’s the art you’ll soon see, plus a statement from each artist about what inspired them:

SALINA ALMANZAR

LancVotes.org art by Salina Almanzar

LancVotes art by Salina Almanzar.

“La Lucha Sigue” (“The Fight Continues”) is a digital drawing that represents the persistent fight for just and equal voting rights for all peoples. The flowers surrounding the hand are symbolic: the Bird of Paradise, Sunflower, and Blue Tulips represent freedom, suffrage, and hope. When I was invited to submit a piece for the LancVotes campaign by the YWCA, I knew I wanted to honor the uprisings and movements that took place in order for me and my family to have the right to vote.

Often we cite women’s suffrage as a singular point in time that represents justice in the electoral process;  however, we know that many marginalized and oppressed people had to wait years and sometimes decades to reach parity. And today there are still many folks whose voices are muffled or silenced by unjust electoral policies. I think it is important to be transparent and honest about how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go.

 

KEISHA FINNIE

LancVotes art by Keisha Finnie

LancVotes art by Keisha Finnie.

Art has been something I have been drawn to for as long as I can remember. From my first art class in kindergarten, to still creating every chance I get today. I have nothing but love for my craft; I constantly aim to master as many forms and mediums of art as possible. It’s all about growth and I love to challenge myself with each new piece. I mainly work with acrylics, but do experiment with watercolor, ink & pastel, and mixed media, and I’ve tried oils a few times. I’m also starting to take my work to a larger scale, creating murals.
I was inspired and felt it was my duty as an artist to speak about voting and use my art as a voice, especially for people my age. I’m guilty of not being present in community in the past, so when an opportunity that means something to me comes about, (I did) what I can in the best way I know how.
I feel so blessed and humbled to have so much support not only from home but around the world. Keep growing and creating. Live Free, Cherish Life.

DYNEISHA GROSS

LancVotes art by Dyneisha Gross '20, Graphic Design

LancVotes art by Dyneisha Gross ’20, Graphic Design

 

I was approached by Salina (Almanzar) to take part in this project and immediately thought this was my chance and opportunity to do a portion of my part. I noticed very early on this year that our youth are not given the valuable information needed to register to vote, let alone the information on where and when. This year I took it upon myself to do some much-needed research and assist individuals privately in getting the information they need to vote and do it without being subject to possible voter suppression.
As an LGBTQIA+ representing woman of color, I, among many others during this global and racial pandemic, have learned just how important and powerful our voices are but we sometimes forget that who, how, and when we vote determines something as small as our basic rights. And that’s when I decided the messaging for this year’s campaign. “Vote Like Your Rights Depend On It” is for anyone. I am hoping that the piece lets everyone know that getting educated, getting prepared, and going to the polls for your rights is what determines the future.

OSMYN OREE

LancVotes art by Osmyn Oree '11, Photography, and PCA&D Admissions rep

LancVotes art by Osmyn Oree ’11, Photography, and PCA&D Admissions counselor

As a young black man in America today, I find it incredibly important that we as individuals take the chance to get out there and VOTE. Over the past few months, the continued rise and public display of police brutality has sparked nationwide uprisings. These uprisings are informed by a long history of injustice towards Black Americans and this injustice is being upheld in our court system. I see a discrepancy in how Black and Brown people are treated when it comes to the police and it isn’t always a fatal interaction. We are unjustly and disproportionately targeted by law enforcement and I feel like we as voters have the power to change that. With this piece, I was motivated to illustrate why it is important to vote while also telling the underlying story of America. The word vote is placed over the two guns on the American flag and the image reads as “WE THE PEOPLE VOTE”. I felt that the print on the fabric, a pro-gun handkerchief, symbolizes the ways that our Constitution is manipulated to be used in favor of some groups of people while also being used as an oppressive tool over others. I think this coming election will be one of the most important elections in our history, and we have to do our part to make sure we get someone in office who will be responsible and hold people accountable for their actions.