Free Expression as Art in Lubbock, Texas

As an Active Voice fellow, I was given the opportunity to connect with local high school students in Lubbock, Texas. For my project, I wanted to give these students an outlet to express themselves freely where they wouldn’t have to face the fear of being censored. To me, the perfect outlet to achieve this goal was the First Friday Art Trail hosted by LHUCA right here in Lubbock.

The First Amendment doesn’t just apply to journalism but also creative writing, poetry, art,  speech and all other forms of expression. The First Friday Art Trail is a free and self-guided art show that is held on the first Friday of every month predominately in the Lubbock Cultural District. It brings together the community as well as different artists, collectors, musicians and more. This would be the perfect place for high schoolers to express themselves freely and exercise their rights.

I visited Lubbock High school and gave a presentation to their journalism, yearbook and newspaper classes about the Student Press Law Center, Active Voice and shared with the students what my mission and goal for them was. After getting a significant amount of volunteers for the art exhibit, the mission had officially begun.

I communicated with the students that volunteered over the course of a few months prior to the exhibit to hear their ideas and help them with anything they might need. Whether it was advice, need for supplies or just someone to talk to- I was there. I also started to communicate with professors, teachers and college students that I thought might be interested in this project and would want to participate in it. The more volunteers, the better!

The art show was set for January 5, 2018 and to say it was a success is an understatement. The entire week leading up to the show, I bought decorations and started setting up the exhibit. I got all the printing done, labels made and made sure I had refreshments for guests. A lot of work and sweat went into this, and it was all worth it. Quite a lot of guests showed up and genuinely enjoyed the art. Not only did the artwork get exposure, but so did the SPLC and the message I was trying to portray. I set up an informational booth about the SPLC and Active Voice and a lot of people had questions, signed up for the newsletter, grabbed s

tickers, brochures and so much more!

The most popular attraction was probably The Freedom Wall. This is where I wrote the question, “What represents freedom to you?” And supplied guests with chalk so that way they had the choice to answer the question and write it on the board. The Freedom Wall did phenomenal and really showcased many different viewpoints on what freedom means to some people.

I did hit a few road bumps, for example some students backed out on me last minute so I wasn’t able to get as many high schoolers’ work as I wanted. However, I would still say my project was a huge success because of the fact that the message I wanted to send was received. I was shocked to see how many people were genuinely interested and in awe of the artwork. The response I received from the guests is what really confirmed for me that yes, my mission was indeed a success.

Naba Siddiq is an Active Voice fellow. She studies public relations at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX.