Artists Activated: Sydnie Mosley, J. Bouey, Marlène Ramírez-Cancio, Fernando Maneca, and Lucy Sexton

Artists Activated: Sydnie Mosley, J. Bouey, Marlène Ramírez-Cancio, Fernando Maneca, and Lucy Sexton
Melanie Greene/Follow @MethodsDance on Twitter

By Melanie Greene/Follow @MethodsDance on Twitter
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Published on May 29, 2018

The Artists Share How They Activate Space

What comes to mind when you hear the term ACTIVATED ARTISTHow do you or people you know activate spaces and ideas through art? Here is what Sydnie Mosley, J. Bouey, Marlène Ramírez-Cancio, Fernando Maneca, and Lucy Sexton had to say.

Sydnie Mosley smiles her in headshot. She wears a bubblegum pink t-shirt.
Sydnie Mosley

Sydnie Mosley (artist-activist, educator)

When I see the term ACTIVATED ARTIST, I wonder: Activated to do what? Activated for whom? In my own dance work, I use performances and workshops to activate people — to build community with one another, to feel empathy and raise consciousness on an issue of justice. SLMDances' ongoing work The Window Sex Project activates people to understand the impact of gender-based sexual harassment in public spaces. On April 15th, SLMDances participated in the NYC Anti-Street Harassment Rally to celebrate our bodies and empower folks to use movement in their responses to street harassment. 

Learn more about how Mosley and SLMDances stays activated at

J. Bouey wears round wire rim sunglasses and pink and green patterned shirt.
J. Bouey

J. Bouey (dance artist)

I believe an activated artist to be one that explores, to the best of their ability, the full expansion of their art practice. Activated artists see their art exist beyond the contexts of performance or distribution and see it weaving into the fabric of our society. The art created by activated artists exist in the classroom, evokes emotion, ignites thoughtful discourse, and asks the witnesses to consider worlds and peoples they’ve been conditioned to ignore. An activated artist uses their creative practices to activate the intricate layers of our human experiences.

Marlena wears a red hoodie and stands in front of a turquoise background
Marlène Ramírez-Cancio

Marlène Ramírez-Cancio (cultural worker)


<< powering on. >>

At first glance, the term evokes an artist who was previously OFF. Inactive. And then someone came up and pressed a button and activated them, as in, "The artist was activated by the pressing of a button under their chin". Then again, I'm probably procrasti-watching too many episodes of Humans. Apologies. Let's try that again.


There was once an artist, and they were "just" an artist. Until something — a passion, an idea, an experience, a social movement — activated them, made them jump into action. The artist is acted upon, influenced by something outside themselves, a force that sends them into some sort of creative passion-frenzy. Of the best and most challenging kind.


Your question is: "How do you or people you know activate spaces and ideas through art?" There, it is the ideas and the spaces that are activated, not the artist. The artist is an activator. The artist is an agent of change (or at least endeavors to be). How is an "activated artist," then, the one who activates?


Wonder Twin powers, activate! Shape of... [insert artivist intention here].

Artistic activism: relentless, long-game acts of making and remaking worlds. There are no guarantees. No sure-fire superhero moves. We do what we can (what we feel we must), and, hopefully, together, over time — with some laughter and love in there to counteract the despair — our collective acts will activate others.

Why do you ask?

What comes to your mind?

Okay. Back to preparing a hilariOUCH webinar about satire for the C4AA.

Thank you for the activation.

<< Powering down. >>

Learn more about Ramírez-Cancio's work here.

An informal headshot of Fernando Maneca wearing sunglasses
Fernando Maneca

Fernando Maneca (arts advocate, curator, mentor)

While there was a time that overtly political work, specially around disasters, tragedies, and headline-grabbing news, was perhaps seen as exploitive, now more and more artists, curators, and producers are taking political stances on and off stage in a manner that is direct and calls the audience into action. There is a renewed interest in activating audiences beyond intellectual discourse which all too often leans back into passive reflection, contemplation, and inaction. 

Learn more about Maneca's work here.

Lucy Sexton stands at a podium that reads The Bessies.
Lucy Sexton

Lucy Sexton (choreographer, arts leader)

I think of citizenship. I think artists are often doing their work and that in itself is a political act and they have ideas and things they want to push that are radical or against the standard way of thinking. I find that artists are not always good citizens, they are not always engaged or become active in the very day-to-day, mundane activities. It may be wishful thinking, but when I think of activated artist, I want to think of someone who is not only doing politics within their creative expression, but are also trying to engage in political way in everyday life.

It’s a matter of seeing yourself as part of New York City. Vote in New York. Join your block association. Is there a tenant association? Can you join? Ask how you can support existing efforts. One step further, do you know who your city council representative is? They will come to your show if you invite them. You can go have a meeting with them. Learn more about Sexton's work here and here.


What does activated artist mean to you? Share your thoughts with us on social media and 

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