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Instead of taking to the streets with a poster board and sharpie, pro-choice UF students are protesting against the June 24 Roe v. Wade overturn by striking paintbrushes across canvases.
Alison Garland, a 20-year-old UF biotechnology junior and multimedia artist, has expressed herself through art her entire life. Much of Garland's art explores the complexities of her intersecting identities of being queer, autistic, Jewish and Hispanic. Struggling at times to communicate verbally with others due to her autism, she finds comfort in conveying her emotions through art.
She recalled getting in trouble with her middle and high school teachers for doodling inside her notebook instead of paying attention in class.
The Hollywood, Florida, native is creating a series of paintings centered on reproductive rights. She plans to share the series on her art-dedicated Instagram account.
“Like a lot of women, I feel frustrated and trapped,” she said. “It feels like such a reductive idea of womanhood is being forced onto me and my existence.”
Garland's series will feature five to seven collages made from magazines and newspaper fragments with words and phrases relating to body autonomy.
When she moved to Gainesville to attend UF in 2020, Garland used her art to cope with her anxious feelings about entering her freshman year of college in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
That fall, she began selling her artwork at the How Bazar markets. Gainesville's tight-knit arts community quickly welcomed her with open arms, she said.
“The connections I’ve made with other artists and people who enjoy my art,” she said, “it’s been life-changing.”
With her upcoming series, Garland aims to create a piece reflecting beauty within tragedy. She hopes those who see the series will feel both inspired and uplifted.
“I want people to feel emboldened to speak up,” she said. “Even in grassroots action, expressing ourselves can help and motivate each other to make change in our communities.”
Garland has channeled activism through art before; she frequently donates proceeds from her art to local organizations, like Gainesville Books to Prisoners, a nonprofit that provides funds and books for Florida inmates.
“It's important to give back to the community that helps you,” she said.
Anna Gorostiaga, a 20-year-old UF biology and plant science senior and local artist, decided to create art focused on abortion rights at the end of May, when a leaked Supreme Court opinion suggested its intent to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Gorostiaga felt compelled to use her artistic talents to protest the decision after swiping through countless reposted social media infographics.
“I think social media is a great way to make people aware of things, but you do have to go beyond that as well,” she said.
Gorostiaga’s art print depicts two hands forming a heart around the gender-neutral symbol to reflect gender inclusivity with the phrase “I love my body! Don’t touch it,” written above and below the hands.
“I just really wanted to try and pivot my art towards speaking my mind,” she said. “I think with reproductive rights, we're all feeling pain, so it was really important to me to say my piece.”
Through her art print sales, Gorostiaga raised and donated $300 to the Florida Access Network, an organization that advocates for reproductive rights and provides abortion care to those in need across Florida.
To Gorostiaga, art is a powerful form of peaceful activism. It has a unique ability to effect change by emotionally connecting with people to a level other mediums cannot, she said.
“People need to keep creating, because it's amazing what can come out of it,” she said.
Jianna D’Addario, a 22-year-old UF psychology alum and former President of UF Planned Parenthood Generation Action, recognizes art as a transformative political tool that can unify different types of people under one cause.
“Art is a really meaningful medium through which we can connect to each other,” she said. “It's a great way to feel that sense of community.”
She has witnessed multiple efforts from local organizations to platform creative activists within the abortion rights movement. The Civic Media Center recently hosted a benefit concert to levy funds for the “Ain’t No Shame” abortion fund July 17. Additionally, Planned Parenthood Gainesville is trying to fund reproductive rights murals, she said.
“Working within reproductive justice, it's really cool to see how much space there is for creativity,” she said. “Art has a very significant role in this movement.”
Amanda Friedman is a senior journalism major and the Enterprise Editor at The Alligator. She previously wrote for the Avenue, Metro and University desks. When she isn't reporting, she loves watching coming-of-age films and listening to Ariana Grande.