Creative Response

“What Does the Foundation of an Anti-racist Arts Sector Look Like?”

by Rod Sawyer

Roderick Sawyer is a Southside-based creative that explores the importance of language and storytelling through his art practices. On one hand, Sawyer’s work involves creating video documentaries, photography publications, and editorial articles that analyze Graffiti as a complex system of communication, self-expression, and resistance. On the other hand, Sawyer focuses on creating photo collages and zines that represent his exploration of language acquisition, dialect, and identity through the study of spoken languages like Spanish. Sawyer’s work functions as a tangible and archival experience.

As an Embedded Artist, Sawyer participated by using collage to reflect on, respond to, and/or interpret the notes/ideas from each session. Sawyer’s work looks to help translate the vision of an anti-racist arts community and the stories found within as a multi-dimensional concept.

Exploring individual & collective ideals on Leadership, Visibility, Investment, and Funding.

Exploring societal and community visibility, power dynamics, and space with Youth + Emerging Artists. Led by Stephanie Manriquez.

Exploring alternative modes of leadership, visibility, resilient funding infrastructures, and more. Led by Ayana Contreras.

Rod Sawyer (he/him/his)

Creative Photographer

Roderick Sawyer has always been artistically inclined, but it wasn’t until he started taking photo/video classes in high school that he knew he wanted to continue to navigate the world as an artist. Sawyer started attending the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2013 and began to combine his visual work with writing through the completion of a thesis titled “The Power of Personal Narratives Within Black and Brown Communities Through Graffiti” for his undergraduate degree in the BA in Visual & Critical Studies program. After graduating in 2018, Sawyer decided to take time off from school and began working as a Children’s Associate in the Chicago Public Library to learn about early literacy, explore his love for Spanish, and to work with kids. In the summer of 2019, Sawyer decided to combine his interest in language learning with photography by embarking on Arquetopia’s self-directed photography residency in Puebla, Mexico. Once back in Chicago in 2019, Sawyer joined the Field/Work Residency through the Chicago Artist Coalition. He has gone on to be a part of the HATCH residency program in 2021-2022 and is also a studio member of the Fulton Street Art Collective.