HERRON: What role do artists have in addressing today's major issues, and how can art-making activities in an art classroom or artist's studio, or finished works in a gallery or museum, help to address these issues?

HOLDER: I think this depends on the artist's intention and context, but many possibilities exist for artists who want to bring specific issues to light, whether privately in their studio or publicly in a venue. Art can educate audiences by presenting them with new information and differing perspectives; it can raise questions and present creative solutions; it can shock us with its honesty (or artifice); and it can also help us slow down and process issues that we might avoid thinking about in other settings. 

Art-making based in social practice can also serve as a point of connection between institutions, communities, and individuals, (hopefully) centering and amplifying voices that aren't always heard in more formal spaces. As an artist who uses many of these strategies to address environmental or social issues, I've found that reflecting on my intentions, privileges, and biases is an integral part of the creative process. This approach to art-making is similar to how I work in the classroom, where I ask students to be specific about their ideas and intentions before reflecting on the most effective way to communicate this message. 

HERRON: What satisfies or fulfills you the most when you're not in the classroom or studio?

HOLDER: Everything to do with food, plants, or the natural world. I love gardening, hiking, biking, wild swimming, canoeing, learning local plants, and foraging. In the kitchen, I enjoy experimenting with all sorts of cooking, baking, pasta-making, pickling, and fermenting projects. As an artist, I find it hard to separate my interests… I love it when different aspects of my life intertwine and collide. I look for things that will help me slow down and notice my body's experience as well as all the sensory details of the environment around me.

Dawn Holder's studio activities can be followed on Instagram, and you can see more of her work on her website.