A conversation on Advocacy & Activism in the arts, featuring panelists who represent the multifaceted Atlanta advocacy scene. This conversation is lead by Ruxanda Renita, with panelists Jessica Anderson, Lauren Harris, William Massey, and Steven Weir.

About Art As A Solution

We invite you to join us in the Art-As-A-Solution Panels which will unpack the future of art in the presence of interdisciplinary groups: artists, tech, community leaders, governments, multilaterals such as the United Nations, and beyond. With each panel, we will bring local and international actors to discuss:

Art - ecosystem 2.0

  1. Art + technology, leading community transformation
  2. Art impacting public policy
  3. Art & community Identity
  4. Art, Technology and Science influencing climate mitigation & social justice
  5. Artist as community thought leaders
  6. and many more…

About the Talk

From Atlanta to Nairobi, from Moscow to Bogota, from New Delhi to Paris, art has been utilized historically as the vehicle for systemic transformation. In the 21st century, sadly, art turned into the financial asset of portfolio diversification for the few… In parallel, a new generation of artists was born who opposes to embrace the market dynamics and prefers to serve its communities; using art as a vehicle to illuminate inequities and ultimately create social cohesion and provoke collective awakening on urban shocks and stresses, e.g. social justice, climate change, wellbeing… So, what is art of the 21st century – a bourgeoisie hobby of the rich or rather a catalyst to urban resilience and social change?

This talk is part of a series by Urban Catalyst Lab. Are you ready for an art revolution that nurtures and inspires people-planet decisions in Atlanta and world-wide? Art is transforming, and artists are leading this transformation in our community, changing attitudes around complex problems e.g. conflict mitigation, historic traumas, healing, social justice.

This virtual talk will be streamed via Zoom.

Watching via Zoom
Viewers can watch via Zoom. Zoom participants can join in via audio, video, and text chat during the open conversation portion of the lecture. Register here for the meeting and receive a link to join when it begins. Zoom participants are capped at 100 people.

Zoom Conversation guide

First-time users can watch this video on how to join a Zoom meeting.

  • Zoom viewers will enter the conversation with audio and video muted. Please stay muted until the open conversation portion. We promise we want to talk to you!
  • Start by introducing yourself with your name and pronouns.
  • We are here to grow and learn! Be open to different styles and areas of knowledge.
  • Share the floor – Be conscious of others joining in with questions and comments.


Ruxanda Renita

Ruxanda Renita is co-founder & CEO of Urban Catalyst Lab (UCL), the Atlanta-based nonprofit that works on positioning and deploying art-as-a-solution for smart and inclusive cities; and an integrated component within urban planning. Through art-as-a-solution, Ruxanda empowers artists to engage in urban planning; and private sector, governments and UN to utilize art-as-a-process in achieving equitable communities and changing behaviors around complex topics such as climate change and social justice. In her work with UCL, Ruxanda has worked to position both the City of Atlanta and the NGO, as innovators on urban resilience, at multiple UN forums including the World Urban Forum; the Science, Technology and Innovation Forum and the ECOSOC Youth Forum.
Ruxanda has 8+ years in the public sector, leading the strategy in fundraising approach with the SDGs, change management and people-public-private partnerships. Currently, she serves as a Public Sector Consultant to Accenture, supporting governments and nonprofits in citizen-centric digitization; smart city/state transformation, including public safety, people-centric mobility and infrastructure. Her transdisciplinary background also includes the contemporary art market. Instrumental in propelling the careers of many emerging artists and in organizing global art sales, Ruxanda was the youngest art dealer to source works for Sotheby’s 2016 Contemporary East, the firm’s first auction of Central and Eastern European art in London, which brought in $1.3 million in sales. Ruxanda is also a member of World Economic Forum Global Shapers Hub in Atlanta and part of the Board of Directors of United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth. Ruxanda currently resides in Atlanta, GA, USA.

Steven Wier

Steven Weir is Vice President of Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI), responsible for its global program development and support in over 90 countries. He joined HFHI as a founding board member for a local affiliate in California in 1986, and in 1993, moved to Sri Lanka to start its country HFHI program, and rising to the role of Vice President for HFHI operations in Asia and the Pacific.
Weir is a registered architect, with degrees in Architecture and Engineering, and prior to his work with HFHI, he spent 16 years in private practice with architecture and real estate development firmed based in San Francisco, but with projects throughout the Pacific rim.

Lauren Harris

Lauren Harris is a fine art management professional, independent curator, and creative director from Atlanta, GA. After earning her BFA in Graphic Design and Art History from Howard University, Lauren quickly immersed herself into New York City’s gallery world in addition to the growing arts scene in Washington, DC.
With an MA in Creative Business Leadership from SCAD, she uses her innovative strategies and progressive ideas to help ignite the arts community and create new avenues for artists. Lauren has worked as the Gallery Manager and Curator of ZuCot Gallery, a black-owned fine art gallery exhibiting the works of notable Black artists.
Lauren most recently worked with the Atlanta University Center Art History + Curatorial Studies Collective, a program that prepares undergraduates for careers in the visual arts. In 2019, she co-founded Black Women in Visual Art, an organization working to connect, cultivate, and serve Black women arts professionals. With BWVA, Lauren builds partnerships and develops programs that create further visibility and opportunity for Black women in the art world.

William Massey

William Massey is a freelance artist, sculptor, creative entrepreneur, and a co-leader of art programs within social organizations throughout the city of Atlanta. In 2012, William received a BFA in Art from Valdosta State University. At VSU, William uncovered his love for found objects, learning to restore life to discarded and broken items within his artwork. William arrived to Atlanta in 2013 to begin his art career consisting of outlets such as glassblowing, teaching art to homeless youth, arts in healthcare and public sculpture installations. He has gradually evolved into a force of creative connection in Atlanta - utilizing the power of art to unify communities, uplift public spaces, pursue social and racial reconciliation, and creatively comfort those in hardship. William serves on the board of Renew the Arts and Arts in Health at Winship Cancer Center, is the art director at Remerge, co-founded ColorATL, and has a number of works exhibiting publicly.

Jessica Anderson

Jessica Anderson (@mommas_momma) is an Atlanta-based artist and research scientist at DataWorks (dataworkforce.gatech.edu/). She directs Into Outof Studio (@intooutof.io/ www.intooutof.io) where she designs interactive digital art installations. She earned an MS in Digital Media from The Georgia Institute of Technology (@artsattech), directed the Spelman College Innovation Lab (@spelmanil), and has worked with many organizations in Atlanta to increase engagement with computational art. She believes that as long as emerging technologies are designed for war and commercial profit, artists must innovate humane, connective applications for those tools.

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