Each month we ask our readers to respond to a question. For January 2016 we asked: How do you make your activist artist statement?

Soul journals
My activist artist statement is expressed by creating soul journals with women at the Shakopee Prison. Soul Journal is a restorative justice program that focuses on rehabilitation by offering incarcerated women the opportunity to develop new skills through self-reflection, see new possibilities for the future and transform their lives. As the women create their visual journal, they begin to expand their vision of what is possible, seeing themselves as valuable human beings who can contribute to their communities.
Gabriel Ashley Ross, St. Paul

Monuments of trash art
I never planned to make activist art. In my case, awareness of the disturbing quantity of plastic trash floating in our oceans motivated me to do something to raise awareness of plastic pollution.

I invited 20 friends to save their non-recyclable plastic trash for one month. With it, I would create a sculpture. After a month I had enough plastic trash to construct a thirteen-foot tall obelisk, "Plastic Obelisk." I chose an obelisk because it is a familiar monument. Monuments are often constructed to inspire reverence and awe, while memorializing an era.

"Plastic Obelisk" has evolved into Monuments of Trash Art Project (MoTAP). MoTAP is my ongoing artistic process that asks people to consider the plastic in their lives.
Tanya Gravening, Minneapolis

One angle
As an international photojournalist, the last 40 years of which have been as a freelancer in the U.S. and Germany - where I lived for 18+ years - I have strived to emulate fairness, justice, integrity and artistic expression in my work. I don't use Photoshop. Even in the past several years, in which most of my photography has been art-related, I've chosen to donate my art to the city for their website and local newspapers to promote public art. At 70, it is a way for me to give back to the community that has given me such a great life.

My concern as I read newspapers and watch TV news is that the ubiquitous use of cell phone photos and videos is influencing the public through social and traditional media. I am in favor of police body cameras and police car cameras. That said, we must remember that - as is the case with eyewitnesses - the angle of the camera shows just that: one angle of the incident.
Barbara La Valleur, Edina

Honoring women
Activist art on behalf of women, girls and all people manifests in my paintings and three-dimensional installation artwork, which I hope create feelings of hope and healing. This includes new paintings, 13 handcrafted vessels and seven full-size figures crafted primarily from repurposed burlap coffee bags. The vessels and descriptions offer 13 teachings about living a meaningful and intentional life. The figures honor women and children harmed, lost or destroyed in body or spirit by domestic violence in the now, past or future. Their story is also my story.
Pamela Yates, St. Paul

Found objects deliver message I think of myself as an assemblage/mixed media artist who wants to convey a significant or relevant message about the culture or community through my artwork. I have created "green" themed pieces using paper, plastic and cardboard to show that these items don't have to be thrown out, but can be recycled and re-purposed.

I've made pieces with ephemera, jewelry, keys and antiques to convey historical significance and dedication to my ancestors and, sometimes, my spiritual beliefs. I think of it as art that inspires and delivers a message.
Debrah Kvam, West St. Paul

Statements with art
I learned from my parents that art communicates on many levels. They showed me artwork of many cultures, classes, and ideologies, and made it clear that social policy, political action, and individual opportunity (or lack thereof) are inseparable - no matter how hard people in power deny this truth.

In my own work, I state what hurts women, and break down the denial that blocks taking action toward positive change. I reject the focus of European-American art on technique and "beauty." The messages I state through my artwork cannot be overlooked by aesthetic distractions.

A recent work, "Rules for an American Girlhood," lists messages that society tells girls, such as "Don't let anyone know you're smart."
Trina Porte, Minneapolis

Editor's Note: Porte's artwork is in the Textile Center's annual member's show, "A Common Thread," opening January 7, 2016. Send us your thoughts!

February's theme is "women and guns" and we're asking you: Do you have a story about guns? Tell us your story. Share your opinions. Send up to 150 words to editor@womenspress.com
Deadline: Jan. 10, 2016

March's theme is"sisters in spirit". How does spirituality show up in your every day life? Tell us your story. Share your opinions. Send up to 150 words to editor@womenspress.com
Deadline: February 10, 2016