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Standing In Her Truth: 50 Years of Art, Activism, and Community Activation

Standing In Her Truth: 50 Years of Art, Activism, and Community Activation

Artist, activist and educator, Beverly Naidus’ 50-year adventure in the arts and culture space serves as an example of how art activists can create, engage, and thrive despite the pressures of living
Beverly Naidus in her studio. October 29, 2022, Tacoma, WA (photo by Beverly Aarons)

I first met Beverly Naidus in 2018 while she was exhibiting her interactive installation, We Almost Didn’t Make It, at the Center On Contemporary Art (COCA). It was massive, immersive, and spoke to my own never-ending sense of despair about just how much we humans have destroyed our only home — Earth. We Almost Didn’t Make It places each visitor 150 years into the future where they can imagine what aspect of our world we might lose (or save): animals, plants, foods etc. And she invites each person to create an “artifact” to represent that thing or their feelings and to make a commitment to action. Those artifacts and commitments became part of the exhibition so that subsequent visitors could engage with them and expand their own ideas and commitments. This type of interactive and community engaged art has made up a significant portion of Naidus’ art practice for the better part of 50 years. Since the 1970s, she has questioned herself and the society about how and why we live and think and behave the way we do.

“And that mountain always steadies me,” Beverly Naidus said as we peered out the window of her Tacoma, WA art studio. Just beyond the industrialized city port and the polluted Puget Sound floor, the Cascade Mountains and Mount Tacoma defiantly towered in the distance. “When I look at the mess, I can look at the mountain and feel whole. It's like, no matter what we do, as foolish beings, geology will remain. Nature will remain in some capacity.”

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