On Giving

December-- it's the season our culture has dedicated to certain values and institutions. In a deeper sense, it's dedicated to love-- to spending time with family and loved ones, to practicing self-love by taking much-needed relaxation and leisure, to expressing love through the act of giving.

But our culture of giving is manipulated by the capitalist agenda, promoting consumerism as the way to show our love. This is of course not new information; we are confronted with droves of consumerist messages every day, we practice media literacy, we tune out ads as much as possible.

We know that buying won't make us truly happy, that it is a tool of the elite to keep the masses complacent, that it's environmentally destructive and wasteful. We know all this, and yet, we cannot escape it, and maybe kind of enjoy it, because it feels good to give, to receive, because there are so many wonderful *things* out there that help us show each other we really *get* each other, and because, well, we take joy in beautiful things. There's a tension here, clearly, that may manifest as guilt, or in psychological terms, "cognitive dissonance"-- when our actions don't quite match up with our values.

Many artists, feminists and leaders dedicate their work to breaking down consumerist culture. 

Barbara Kruger

Barbara Kruger

Jenny Holzer

Jenny Holzer

still from John Carpenter's They Live

still from John Carpenter's They Live

This winter, we've been reflecting on our relationship to material. We've been trying to hone in on how to be makers, who rely on material, without acquiring or using more than we need. We are hyper-aware that whatever we make will add to the excess of *stuff* out there, so we want to feel that what we're making is intentional, contributing to our values and not someone else's. At the same time, we also want more than ever to give and express our love, because the world needs that more than ever. This season, this moment, is particularly difficult for many of us.

That's been the inspiration behind recent projects like Literally Anything, an art show/silent auction (in collaboration with Mia Christopher) where all proceeds were donated to Planned Parenthood. The auction format made it possible for folks to buy art that they might not normally be able to afford.

We've been printing items that encourage folks to, when they do buy, to buy from a source worth supporting, whether that be a local artist, a group in need, or an organization. Our "You Mean The World To Me" card prompts the giver to donate something (time, money, whatever) to a cause that's important to their loved one, in their honor, instead of a material gift. And we've committed to donating the proceeds of those items to causes that are important to us-- most recently, Planned Parenthood and the Ghost Ship Fire Relief Fund.

We wish you a restful, rejuvenating winter season. We send you love and support. Treat yourself kindly. Hold your loved ones close. Reach out to strangers with an open heart. Practice small acts of kindness. This is the biggest gift we can give ourselves and each other. In the upcoming year may we restore our faith in humanity. We can do this.

Love,

Ava and Alexandra