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Civic Impact

Keeping young people's career dreams alive is motive of Healthy Artists' focus on health-care access

The United States is the only industrialized nation not to offer some form of healthcare to its citizens, points out Julie Sokolow, local documentary filmmaker and founder of the arts and social-justice organization Healthy Artists. "Why aren't more people engaged with this?" she asks. Why aren't more people demanding that this country catch up with the rest of the world?
Perhaps people need a little extra inspiration -- and maybe young people can lead the way, Sokolow posits. That's where Healthy Artists comes in.
On Jan. 4, 2013, at Modern Formations Gallery, Healthy Artists will open “The Healthy Artists Movie Poster Exhibition,” a month-long show of art urging young people to become as involved in the health-care issue as they were in presidential politics when Barack Obama originally ran. In conceiving the exhibition, Sokolow's thoughts turned to the power of the now-iconic blue-and-red "Hope" poster of Obama created by Shepard Fairey for 2008. For the Jan. 4 event, Healthy Artists has gotten 15 local professional artists and five student artists each to create a movie-style poster around the group's original effort, a documentary film series on artists discussing their work and their difficulties with health care.
As Sokolow points out, these young creatives are in an age bracket -- 19 to 29 -- who make up 30 percent of this country's 49 million uninsured. "Artists are just a metaphor for anyone who has a dream they want to accomplish," she says. "Anyone with a dream can relate to that." But instead of gathering terrible stories of medical bankruptcy and untreated illness, Healthy Artists "is highlighting how having health care would liberate so many people. It's about making life easier for people and people not feeling shackled to jobs because they need the healthcare the job provides. If we're the greatest country on earth, we should be investing in our citizens as the other countries are.
"We want people to recognize that it's to their benefit to get involved, that they can use their talents to get involved," she adds. "We want to create new ways to be an activist."
Healthy Artists is teaming with Be Well! Pittsburgh -- which earlier got a Sprout Fund grant to compile health-care options for the uninsured -- and Original Magazine to help publicize the issue. Healthy Artists -- itself the recipient of a Sprout Fund grant -- will also team with Healthcare 4All-PA to present the latter's study on Jan. 4 concerning how a single-payer healthcare plan would benefit Pennsylvania. An effort to create a single-payer healthcare is currently underway in Vermont. After the exhibition and the other work of Healthy Artists and its collaborators, Sokolow hopes another city will be inspired by Pittsburgh.
More information on the exhibition's opening night (which includes free food, drink and music from the Harlan Twins), as well as on the exhibition's artists and judges, is available at the Healthy Artists website.
Do Good:
Looking for additional ways to help with the healthcare issue? Volunteer with Healthcare 4All-PA by clicking here.
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Julie Sokolow, Healthy Artists
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