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Letter One: Invitation to Iowa Creatives

This letter was originally published on the Iowa Arts Council blog for Art Week Des Moines

Dear Iowa’s Creative Force,

I am writing from our farmhouse in Southeast Iowa. All the wondrous shades of green are taking their place for the lush summer ahead of us. The birds are noisier this year than I have ever experienced them. The world is waking up. I am ready to awaken to a world where artists are essential contributors to a society that values them. We were among the first responders in the Great Hunkerdown caused by COVID-19, quickly pivoting to find how we could generously share our art for the well-being of people trapped and frightened.

The Iowa Arts Council (IAC) is providing an opportunity to begin this conversation at Art Week Des Moines. Each day at lunchtime from 12-1pm June 22-26, we will gather virtually to discuss how we might adapt to create more justice, equity, diversity, and inclusio (JEDI). Monday’s session - part performance, part cultural equity training - will be led by social justice drag queen and JEDI trainer Beatrice Thomas from Authentic Arts and Media. As their fierce and fabulous drag persona, Black Benatar, they will explore the role bias plays in our lives, how privilege impacts us, and how we can use it to create positive change in the world.

Tuesday through Friday, we will conduct virtual potionmaking sessions for JEDI transformation. This potionmaking process comes from a project in development that I would like to bring to the table as a tool for this JEDI transformation work in Iowa. It’s a potion show that engages people in brewing their own healing tinctures through storytelling, powersharing, and artmaking. We will have a small group in the Zoom room Tuesday-Friday to help shape the potionmaking process. We will live stream the session onto Facebook for everyone else to join us in the potionmaking process. If you are available from 12-1 Tuesday-Friday and would like to be part of the live studio audience, please fill out this Google Form.

I am ready to awaken to a world where state violence against Black people is not tolerated and we are working diligently to uproot racism’s influence on how we understand and organize ourselves. What a powerful moment to use disruption as opportunity to adapt the world toward our visions. I look forward to gathering at the Iowa Arts Summit August 7 to share our awakenings, visions, and callings. Together we can map new worlds to co-create.

We will have hard conversations and work, but also laughter, intimacy, and fun in the process. We are artists, entertainers, hosts, healers, educators, entrepreneurs, movement builders - the ones who create. Let us harness these powers of creation and have a glorious time together. Let us embrace the mystery and step into the unknown, finding joy and companionship in the journey.

In pursuit of creative justice and equitable love,

Jonny Stax

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This letter was originally published on the Iowa Arts Council blog for Art Week Des Moines. Dear Iowa's Creative Force, We have kicked off our potionmaking journey at Art Week Des Moines. It is so exc


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