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The Womxn Project Education Fund launches ‘Empowered to Advocate Series’

Project bridges art, public policy on women’s rights

For Jocelyn Foye, executive director of The Womxn Project, “Artivism” is more than an specific installation or project — it is an ever-growing conversation. Foye wields her background as a former lecturer of design and sculpture at Southern New Hampshire University to bond “public art with public policy,” particularly concerning reproductive healthcare and abortion access. 

Founded in 2017, The Womxn Project is a 501(c)(4) local organization that has worked to build “a feminist and community-based movement to further human rights” in Rhode Island, according to its website. Unlike 501(c)(3) organizations, 501(c)(4)-designated organizations can conduct activities such as political lobbying.

Foye also co-created The Womxn Project Education Fund, the education-focused nonprofit. 

Earlier this year, The Fund launched their ‘Empowered to Advocate Series’  to support LGBTQ+ rights in R.I. 

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Gaby Cantu ’18, an artist and translator for TWP and TWPEF hopes to build “a community of energized folks with necessary skills to fight back in a tense political climate that’s heightened this election year” through increasing educated political engagement with LGBTQ+ issues, she said.

Among TWPEF’s recent initiatives is the Yard Sign Public Art Intervention, which distributes colorful, waterproof signs that read “Hate has no place here” across Providence, according to its website.

According to Foye, TWPEF has distributed over 400 yard signs with plans to extend the project through the November election. Presidential affairs were instrumental in the founding of TWP as the co-creators met during a lecture about former president Donald Trump’s election to office in 2016, she added.

“We saw a need to engage people,” Foye said in an interview with The Herald. She added that “artivism” has been her way of making civic engagement more accessible.

Tenants of the Empowered to Advocate Series include community conversation programs and local organizing, according to the TWPEF website

“We’re trying to create a safe space” that would allow people “to feel like they can show up as their authentic selves and not feel endangered,” Foye said. She identified growing “community dissonance” from heightened political polarization as a concern.

Foye is wary that advocacy often puts community members in vulnerable positions. “There are some households in certain districts that are nervous to put that (yard) sign out because they don’t want to ‘out themselves’ as someone who can be targeted,” she explained. She hopes the project can build solidarity and rally locals to vote progressive politicians into office. 

At its core, the project is about unifying different experiences and voices into meaningful action, Foye added. “I was never a policy person,” she said. “My background was in spectacle-based art.” Her collaborations with other artists have been influential in furthering TWP’s advocacy, Foye added.

The Yard Sign Public Art Intervention was done in partnership with Hall of GraFX, a local business specializing in digital printing and imaging that has collaborated with TWP.

GraFX Owner Gary Wallace said he is proud of his involvement with the yard sign project and that he feels strongly about supporting women’s rights. When TWP approached him with a limited budget, he offered to sponsor their prints.

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“There’s always room to help somebody if (it is) in your heart to help,” Wallace said. “I have a saying: give more than you take.” 

Freelance Artist Jonathan Izzard was a collaborator on TWP’s “Advocacy is Love” Postcard Exhibition released earlier this year. He is currently designing a zine to “cover areas of advocacy such as what it means to be an advocate … getting involved in protests (and) voting rights,” they wrote in an email to The Herald. 

Nowadays, “it’s not enough to (just) be educated on change,” Izzard added. They described art as a “personal safe space” and hoped his actions would “help others … know they are not alone in wanting change and progress.” 

According to Foye, TWP has many initiatives planned moving forward, including a ‘Get Out to Vote Series’ and more advocacy work around abortion access and gender-diverse care. The organization is also working on an “artivism” kit to encourage meaningful advocacy. 

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“The Womxn Project started (as) a bunch of volunteers who had full-time jobs (and) young families after (Trump) was elected,” Foye said. “Fast forward to today, we’ve had a lot of successes.”


Megan Chan

Megan is a Senior Staff Writer covering community and activism in Providence. Born and raised in Hong Kong, she spends her free time drinking coffee and wishing she was Meg Ryan in a Nora Ephron movie.



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