Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Institute 
of Prophetic Activist Art
                 at Dixon Place

Tom Block (r) with President John Sweeney (AFL-CIO) and Executive Director Bill Schulz (Amnesty International) at the inaugural exhibition of the Human Rights Painting Project  (Washington DC, 2001). The project has been exhibited more than 40 times and raised tens of thousands of dollars for Amnesty International.


The application period for the The Institute of Prophetic Activist Art at Dixon Place (NY) is now open.  Applications will be accepted until January 15, 2016.  The Institute offers an intensive workshop to build individual art-activist projects over the semester-long seminar.  Classes include an introduction to the specific aspects of the Prophetic Activist Art model (developed by Tom Block out of his own work), and then an exploration about how these ideas can be applied to each artist and their endeavor.

The Institute will consist of 12 activist artists who would like to build their projects during the semester-long seminar, basing their work on Tom Block’s manifesto/handbook of art activism: Prophetic Activist Art: Handbook for a Spiritual Revolution  (Centre for Human Ecology, Scotland, 2014).  Mr. Block ( will be running the seminar.

Building out from the belief that it is – and always has been – the artist’s obligation to raise the human gaze to their highest spiritual possibility, this model utilizes art to infiltrate and co-opt political, business and social structures to inspire specific and quantifiable social change.  Prophetic Activism is based on the idea that true social transformation must come from within societal pillars, and the best manner of implementing change is to influence these power centers.

The eight session seminar will introduce artists to the specific ideas of the model, including co-opting political, business and social energy; partnering with non-profit groups; making liaisons with other artists; utilizing unusual exhibition and outreach methods; “Machiavellian” activism; how to build a project from inception through completion; how to imagine and successfully attain quantifiable activist goals and other specific aspects of a Prophetic Activist Art intervention.  We will explore the minutiae of writing cover letters, approaching political and social leaders for their support, finding non-traditional manners of reaching audiences, raising awareness through press releases, media outreach, advertising and manner of aspects of the theory.

Tuition will be $115, paid in advance, for the full 8-week program and will include a copy of Prophetic Activist Art: Handbook for a Spiritual Revolution, which will be the “textbook” for the work.


Handbook for the class.  Major  General Charles Tucker
(USAF-retired) said of the work: "Tom Block is a visionary
at the intersection of art and conscience."   Lewis Elbinger, career State Department worker and one-time political director at Central High Command (FL) noted: "Prophecy and art flowing together into contemporary mysticism and mysticism flowing into activism."

Dates: We will meet on the following dates (all Mondays from 2-5 pm): February 8, 22, March 7, 21, April 4, 18, May 2, 9.  We will meet at Dixon Place (161A Chrystie Street, NYC).  

To apply:  please send a coverletter outlining the germ of your activist idea, plus any activist art experience you have had; a link to a website or portfolio of images and a resume to:   Deadline for applications January 15, 2016.                                                                              

Tom Block: Tom Block is an artist, writer and activist best known for the development and implementation his activist art theory, Prophetic Activist Art.  His activist work includes the Human Rights Painting Project in conjunction with Amnesty International; Shalom/Salaam Project, including abstract and portrait paintings, as well as the seminal academic study: Shalom/Salaam: Story of a Mystical Fraternity, which he has presented at conferences, universities and galleries around the United States, Canada, Europe, Turkey and the Middle East; Response to Machiavelli Project, represented by published book (Machiavelli in America) and two series of paintings and Cousins Public Art Project, publicly installed  in Tempe, AZ and Silver Spring, MD.  He was the founding producer of the Amnesty International Human Rights Art Festival, an international event that took place April 2010 near Washington DC, and the Iraq History Art Project, DePaul University 2010.

Mr. Block has published five books and has exhibited his artwork in galleries and museums more than 200 times throughout the United States and Europe.  His plays have been produced and read over the last three years in numerous venues in New York and Washington DC.  His work has been covered in press such as National Public Radio, Washington Post, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, American Theatre MagazineManhattan Magazine, Aktuel (Turkey), ABC (Spain), La Nazione (Italy), Al-Ahram (Egypt), Alrai (Jordan) and many other press outlets around the United States and world.

Past members of the Institute have included
Mashuq Deen, a playwright and activist who is creating a project to gently confront immigrant communities in Jackson Heights, Chinatown and Crown Heights Brooklyn) with other sexually-oriented members of their community, by inserting these "others" into their day-to-day lives at bus stops, subway stations, markets and throughout the communtiy
Erin Cherry, an actress, who is creating a project called “Stay Woke: A Call to Action” which will provide a safe-space for community stakeholders in Harlem to discuss issues of concern to African Americans such as police brutality, media bias, staying positive in the face of a hostile world and other aspects of being African American in the United States today.
Nate Speare, an actor and writer, who is creating in the new field of “Astro-Dramas,” which make explicit the astrological forces which surround us.  His works unpack the individual, positive forces that may lay latent in our actions and beings.
Eva Peskin and Justine Williams, who are creating a community space for LGBTQ members, modeled on the Boy Scouts, but subverting that model by reconsidering “correct action”.  This work is also being developed at the Queer Mentorship Program.
Pamela Enz, a performance artist, who is working an a prison-based project, and planning on taking her work into youth prisons. 
Olivia Corbett, a fashion designer, rapper and dancer who is creating a clothing line with sayings on them which will exhort, question and subvert the status quo, as well as highlight positive aspects of the human character.  Her website is already online at:
Loren Halman (Lolo Haha), a performance artist, who is devising a project to engage non-profit groups to use creative means to fight for housing justice.
Mirjam Linschooten: an international researcher and artist who is exploring how the manner in which museums exhibit their works denatures them of their original meanings, and creating novel manners of exhibiting ethnographic and artistic works which will allow them to be experienced, instead of just "seen" behind vitrines and pasted onto walls.
Charlie Munn: an actor and playwright, is working on a theatrical piece which explores the language used by white men on the wrong side of history. The piece uses sourced documents from slaveholders, segregationists, and senators to confront its audience with words we want to pretend never existed.

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