MINNEAPOLIS — Asian Women United of Minnesota (AWUM) has collaborated with local artists for the past several years in support of our mission, which is to end domestic violence by promoting safe and healthy relationships within the Asian Pacific Islander community.
This month, we put the spotlight on Ms. Karah VueBenson – muralist, jewelry maker and mixed-media artist. This past year, Karah donated her time and talent to our House of Peace emergency shelter by painting a beautiful mural series in our new children’s room.
The images on the walls help to create an inviting and uplifting space for our young residents. We are honored to serve with Karah and we publicly acknowledge her contribution. We are proud that Karah is an Artist for AWUM!
AWUM asked Karah a few questions about her craft and the role of the arts in promoting social change. Here are her responses:
Q: What is your main art form?
Karah: I like creating art that is really hands-on and I try to use materials that are interesting to work with while still achieving the appearance I’m going for, so I tend towards mixed media and found object pieces. I love wall murals since there’s always so much space to interact with. I also make jewelry and thank-you cards for fun.
Q: How long have you been engaged in developing and refining your craft?
K: I did my first mural project when I was 16 and have since then completed a few more. Because I just graduated high school, most of the projects have been related to my art classes, but I hope to keep on making art and crafting since it makes me happy.
Q: What motivates you to do art?
K: For my mixed media pieces I try to address bigger social issues, such as body image and racial stereotypes, through shocking people and taking them off guard. In my murals, however, I try to choose themes that are drawn from the natural world, like flowers and landscapes, in order to make people feel more light-hearted and joyful. I painted my first mural, which was of dozens of sunflowers on my bathroom walls, with the intention to bring cheer to my house during the harsh Minnesota winters. In all of my pieces I try to show people how much work I’ve put into my work and encourage them to care about my pieces as much as I do.
Q: What role does art play in creating positive social change?
K: I think there are essentially two ways art can be used for positive social change. In one way, art can be used to raise awareness about what’s really going on in the world and to voice the truths of oppressed individuals in ways that are more powerful than written words. Using art as a form of activism can open the minds of many to different ideas and concepts and it can also aid in uniting people against common societal issues. On the other hand, art can also be used to promote positive social change through the pure enjoyment of artists’ works. A painting can be so beautiful it brightens your day, or a sculpture can be so incredible you want to stare at it for hours so that you can grasp its true meaning.
Q: Why do you want your creative works to support AWUM’s mission?
K: I agree whole-heartedly with AWUM’s mission and I want to do my part in supporting the individuals whose lives have been affected by domestic violence. I know that sometimes when we are in tough situations in life, seeing something that makes you smile or that brings joy and hope to our hearts can make getting through the day much easier.
To reach AWUM: www.awum.org or 24-hour crisis: 612-724-8823.