Bringing Our War Money Home through Art: An Interview with Natasha Mayers

Maine based artist-activist Natasha Mayers talks with 10 Years + Counting about  community based Draw-a-thons.

Please describe your project. What inspired you to tackle this issue?

Our project was inspired by misplaced priorities resulting in the things that creative people love being strangled by the recession –parks, libraries, schools, concerts, field trips, vegetable gardens, etc. while the money to fund all these wonderful needs was right at hand, in the military budget. We thought an outpouring of creative envisioning would help people see beyond the darkness of confused priorities, and maybe step back toward a humane and sustainable way of life on the planet. A series of Draw-a-thons and Draw-ins to Bring Our War $$ Home, as well as display and distribution of some of the images, is an ongoing project between the BOW$H campaign, the Union of Maine Visual Artists, and CODEPINK Maine. Artists, poets, musicians, students and community members came together to create and share creations.
At the first Draw-a-thon, we produced over 75 images of better ways of  using of our tax dollars at the first Draw-a-thon and created 4 different zines (with 19 images each) to hand over to our legislators.

"Paintbrush Missile Launcher Truck" by Brian Reeves.

What have you learned from this project? Were there any surprising outcomes?

One surprising outcome was how different the events turned out to be — they took place in a large church hall; the Space Gallery in Portland; the rotunda Hall of Flags at the Statehouse in Augusta, and other varied venues. Soon we will do a silkscreening workshop at a grassroots media conference. The collaborations between artists to create the images has been a gift to all of us. The incredible range of how people who’ve devoted their life’s work to art will conceive of a the message “Bring Our War $$ Home” is delightful. We found in our Draw-Ins that people are truly dis-armed when it comes to working with artists! They get very excited to see their ideas brought to life by the participating artists, and to be able to take the drawing away with them.

What Is For Dinner, silkscreen by Robert Shetterly and Natasha Mayers

How do you wage peace each day? Any pointers for the rest of us?

We wage peace every day by believing in the possibility of it, and by putting out images and messages that help others believe. Our silk screens are being purchased by activists and used in demonstrations covered by the news around the world. Our art is getting seen!

"Bring Our War Dollars Home" by Kenny Cole, William Hessian, and Laurie.

If applicable, how can people get involved in your project?

People can get involved by visiting our website to see what we are up to, and sending us an email or calling to get news about how to join in. Besides artists and other creative types, we always need supporters to help with supplies, meals, or disseminating images. If you agree to publicly display our silkscreened posters you can order various designs for a nominal fee.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

For additional information, links and to see posted images, go to: http://mainedrawathon.blogspot.com/.

One of Maine’s most committed activist-artists, Mayers’ ‘World Mind Missiles’ is but one of many personal and public creative actions advocating for peace and social justice.  She has organized draw-a-thons, helped 4th and 5th graders paint their town history on utility poles and supervised painting of over 500 murals.  Her ‘State of War’ series places war in Maine landscapes, asking ‘How would we feel if it happened here?’

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