Local Artists Using Art for Social Change

Local Artists Using Art for Social Change

Local Artists
Social conscience works of art created for the United Way are (left to right), Addiction by Nick Fischer, Aging/Senior Care by Jacob Bosmoe (not pictured), Domestic Violence by Peter Killian, Financial Instability by Nicole Fischer, and Mental Health by Dan Cleberg.

Local artists have teamed up with the United Way to promote social change in the Aberdeen Area.

The United Way of Northeastern South Dakota met with local area artists Peter Killian, Nick Fischer, Nicole Fischer, Dan Cleberg, and Jacob Bosmoe to collaborate on a unique project: to help create educational material on social problems. 

Each artist has created a painting that spotlights a social problem from a local perspective. The United Way chose five issues based on input from local agencies. The chosen issues addressed are mental health, addiction, domestic violence, financial instability, and aging/senior care. Each piece features materials that educate and raise awareness of the problems we are facing in our region. Angie Cleberg of United Way further explains, “Our goal is to create awareness of issues that are happening right here in our own communities. We hope that when people see the art, along with the data regarding our own state, they realize that these aren’t just numbers, they are their friends, families, and neighbors. By bringing these issues home, we hope it motivates people to give, volunteer, and advocate for the programs tackling these issues knowing they are helping the people and community they care about and call home.” 

By teaming art, education, and social issues together, the United Way means to give a more holistic learning experience that drives the message home from several angles. Cleberg says, “Art tells a story in a way that data and facts never can. Uniting them together will strengthen the message.” This concept highlights the second goal of the project. Nicole Fischer, a full-time artist and Board Member for United Way explains, “Coming from an artistic mindset, I know the unique value creativity brings to the decision making and problem-solving discussions. If you want any organization to be successfully innovative in reaching their goals, you must bring creativity to the center. Artists belong on your boards and committees, from the business sector to human service agencies. We hope this project demonstrates this point.”

United Way has other activities to help the learning experience. Round table discussion events based on each topic with follow up action plans are scheduled for fall 2020 and early 2021. 

Funding for this project came from a grant through The Change Network. The Change Network is a unique learning experience for people in North and South Dakota who want to build the skills and connections that will help them become more effective leaders. Part of the training includes creating a project that promotes positive change in the community they live in. Angie Cleberg took part in the 2019-2020 cohort. The United Way Foundation matched the grant to cover the costs of educational materials and discussion events. // –United Way Staff