“A world without street harassment is a world illuminated.” – Nima Veiseh, featured artist.
Here at CASS, we believe in the power of words to change worldviews. Words like those above inspire hope for a vision of what our city, country, and world can look like. But sometimes, words are not enough.
The tagline for our annual gala – Lights, Camera, Collective Action! – is not just an absolutely delightful play on our name. Yes, it is a reflection of what makes CASS succeed: the collective action of dedicated volunteers and supporters like you. But it’s also indicative of our belief that the arts, including the performing arts, can spur action, affect change and even begin healing when words fail us.
This year’s LCCA on April 28 is packed with entertainment, including stand-up comedy, live music and gorgeous pieces of art for sale. Ahead of Thursday’s gala, we thought we’d give you a taste of what these talented artists have to say about what they do and why they do it. We asked them a few questions, and we hope you enjoy the responses as much as we did.
If you could describe your work in one word, what would it be?
Authentic – Chelsea Shorte, comedienne
Moist – Stephanie Sapienza, Abby Normal
Bestrogen – Michael Stettes, Abby Normal
Kind – Liz Hutcheson, Fast Snail owner and featured artist
Textural – Nima Veiseh, featured artist
Interpretive – Christy Hayek, featured artist
Nostalgia – people love love hearing music from their formative years. So I’ll be playing lots of 90’s hip hop and R&B for at least the next decade or so. – Doug Foote, aka DJ Dougstep
If you could describe your work in five words, what would they be?
I’m bad at being concise – Doug Foote, aka DJ Dougstep
Layers of life and time – Nima Veiseh, featured artist
Whatever it wants to be – Christy Hayek, featured artist
Encouraging a chick rock habit – Stephanie Sapienza, Abby Normal
Colorful, witty, thoughtful, patterned, classic – Liz Hutcheson, Fast Snail owner and featured artist
CASS believes strongly in the relationship between art and social justice. How does art express what grassroots activism and public policy/politics cannot?
I believe art can serve as the manuscript and powerful imagery of social justice. It allows the individual to engage in social issues, create their own opinions about it, and become involved. Art has a way of showing light to situations that could be easily ignored by the common passerby – but when it is not easily ignorable (IE tagged on street walls and signs) it only strengthens the cause. – Christy Hayek, featured artist.
Art provides a means to communicate important/universal ideas without words. It can be a “gentler” way of getting a message across and allow people to interpret and assimilate messages on their own terms. – Liz Hutcheson, Fast Snail owner and featured artist
People can tune out the onslaught of news and social media being thrown at them, especially today, but music can invite you back into a difficult subject and make you realize that it’s not just a news item to ignore on your social media feed, and it’s not separate from you – it’s part of the human experience. – Stephanie Sapienza, Abby Normal
Art conveys universalities and ideas that plain language cannot. Despite its importance, humans don’t connect to law; humans connect to art. There’s no Billboard Charts for Supreme Court decisions, no infomercials for Now That’s What I Call Policy! CDs. – Michael Stettes, Abby Normal
Art and Social Justice are both in their own right reflections of the evolving state of humanity, and they do well to enable each other. Art is a way of communicating through a different medium, the feelings, frustrations and reflections that are often impossible to do through words. – Nima Veiseh, featured artist
Art switches on the mental light bulb in a way few things can. – Doug Foote, DJ Dougstep
Comedy is space where our voices are underrepresented and dismissed. I teach and use my skills to encourage others to share themselves via stand up and give our community the joy and laughter necessary for survival. – Chelsea Shorte, comedienne
What does a world without street harassment look like to you?
Peaceful – Liz Hutcheson, Fast Snail owner and featured artist
As a white cis straight man, it’s the world I live in now! The most insidious thing about street harassment — it renders itself invisible to those not affected by it. CASS and other orgs have done a great job of connecting women and connecting the policy dots, so that we have a shared understanding of what happens in D.C. every day, whether those in power personally experience it or not. – Doug Foote, aka DJ Dougstep
A world without harassment is a world where people are able to travel freely, not only with their persons, but with their ideas — thinking, sharing and loving with liberty. – Nima Veiseh, featured artist
In addition to a safer world for queer folks and women in general, a more specific example would be walking hand in hand with my girlfriend and people either smiling when they see us or not taking particular notice. – Chelsea Shorte, Comedienne
What are you most excited about for this year’s LCCA?
Being able to excite a group of feminists (men and women) with music at an event where we’re all on the same page about an important issue! – Stephanie Sapienza, Abby Normal
This will be my first CASS event. I’m mainly excited to meet the variety of people involved in such an important cause, and as the entertainment, I hope to help prime the atmosphere for ideal schmoozing. – Michael Stettes, Abby Normal
To be with other members of the community who are excited and engaged to fight street harassment and are ready to celebrate themselves and CASS’s hard work. – Chelsea Shorte, comedienne