“Trans Rights Are Human Rights” by multimedia artist and musician Matt Walker ‘04 has been selected by the Arts and Culture Commission of Yellow Springs in their Call to Action for lamp pole banners, which was launched towards the end of December 2020. The Call to Action asked for submissions of protest posters on the issues of racism, sexism, LGBTQ+ rights, and environmental justice.
A statement submitted with the post explains, “The term transgender describes people whose gender identity is different than the sex they were assigned at birth. Transgender people are no less deserving of rights and freedoms than anyone else however, transgender people face disproportionately higher rates of human rights discrimination than any other community.”
Matt submitted a total of 12 works for selection, of which, most had been created in the weeks and months following the George Floyd demonstrations in Minneapolis.
He recalls seeing videos posted to social media by fellow Antiochian classmates and other contacts who were on the ground at the time and felt compelled to speak out, “I remember going to anti-police brutality events around the turn of the century and there was nobody there. It was so depressing. You know, one of those things where you’re in a major city and there’s like 20 people. Anyway, that’s kind of why I lost track of some of the activism, but when the killing of George Floyd happened, I really wanted to use my art to engage people, make an impact and make space for radical voices.”
For years, Matt says that he has been using doilies and layering his stencils to create beautiful and colorful borders but had left the space in the middle open. Matt explains that he struggles a lot with perfectionism in his art as well as the idea of cultural appropriation–something Matt first learned about while studying at Antioch.
Matt enrolled at Antioch in 2000 and made it his goal to travel to both New York and India. Matt’s first Co-op took place in Manhattan as a technical intern at Dixon Place Theater with Leonard Watts as his supervisor. His Independent study abroad was spent in India, where he attended Graduate school in Southern India (Pondicherry), studying Music and Anthropology. The following year, Matt completed the New York Arts Program, where he did an apprenticeship under Jazz musician Henry Threadgill.
Through his art, Matt hopes to ignite more discussions around key topics so that issues like racism, sexism, LGBTQ+ rights, and environmental justice continue to stay visible in the journey towards equality and justice.