“Bring your hobbies to the revolution,” read the social media post that inspired Hannah Loftus, a senior media studies major and fine arts minor, to combine her passion for photography with her desire to enact social change.
Throughout the summer, Loftus developed and sold copies of her favorite prints on her social media accounts, mainly Instagram. By the end of July, she had sold more than 100 photos and raised $1,115 for the Black Arts Future Fund, an organization that, according to their website, works to “amplify and strengthen the future of Black art” by providing grants to nonprofit organizations that share in this mission. “I wanted to help people and to help art. As an artist myself, this organization made sense for me,” Loftus said.
Since her first sale, Loftus has also been hosting weekly print raffles on her Instagram page. Many of her followers (she currently has 782) purchase tickets, $3 each, that put them in the running to win one of two 8-by-10-inch prints she selects for that week. The money raised from the tickets for each print goes toward the organizations of Loftus’ choosing. For the week of Oct. 10, those two organizations were the Forestry and Fire Recruitment Program (FFRP), which provides free education and wildfire-fighting training resources to formerly incarcerated preople through California’s Conservation Camps, and the Black Trans Femmes in the Arts Project (BFTA), which aims to foster community between Black transgender women and non-binary femmes in the arts.
Sophia Yau-Weeks, a student at the University of California, Berkeley, purchased prints from Loftus over the summer. “Hannah and I met through a mutual friend, but bonded in supporting each other’s art over the past several months with all our proceeds going towards BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) orgs,” Yau-Weeks, who also raises money for mutual aid organizations through selling her own art, said. “I think it’s an accessible and creative form of activism that many people can partake in,” she said.
“Just liking posts on Instagram or signing petitions can only go so far,” Loftus said. Through finding other activist’s or artist’s accounts, she became more interested in grassroots activism and the use of crowdfunding to raise money. Loftus spoke on how being a part of these communities online was what allowed her to generate all of these new ideas, and helped her find all of the organizations that she was able to donate to.
Loftus experienced additional vulnerability that came from sharing her work. “Initially it was shocking to see people wanting to purchase a picture that I took,” Loftus said, “But nothing that you make can be recreated, no one else can make what I make.” She felt proud seeing her prints and the causes she supports displayed in people’s rooms and being shared on social media. She explained that even the physicality of being able to share a photo, a moment, with someone is a unique and special experience.
Looking to the future, Loftus plans to continue the raffles and raise money for grassroots organizations and hopes to be able to shift her focus to helping other artists. “I want to make sure I’m not just giving money to companies, and put my efforts towards actually helping people eat,” she said. She said she believes that this experience has helped give her art purpose, and inspired her to continue to pursue her dreams of a career in art and media. You can find her on Instagram @electricgrandmaa and at hannahloftus.com.
Disclosure: The writer of this story participated in the raffle mentioned in the story.