Where art accessibility and community outreach collide: Project 1612 hosts “yART” sale Sunday

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MORTON, Ill. (WMBD) — The civil unrest in the summer of 2020 inspired a local arts organization to host a “yART” sale and fundraise for black-led businesses. Now, they decided to bring the event back and support another cause.

This year’s “yART” sale, located on E. Jefferson St. in Morton, raised money for Lula Peoria, a not-for-profit that serves the homeless population in Peoria.

“They provide resources, food, sleeping bags, they advocate for the homeless community,” said Alexander Martin, a co-founder of Project 1612, the organization responsible for the Sunday event.

Martin and Jessica Bingham started Project 1612, along with Zach Ott, in 2015 as hopeful curators.

“Project 1612 is an alternative exhibition and performance space. We also do artist residencies,” Bingham said.

Martin and Bingham said they want to make sure everyone can own original art, no matter their background. Therefore, all the artwork was donated by local artists, and the backyard sale was on a “pay-what-you-can” basis.

“We truly believe that people in the community should live with art,” Bingham said. “And we don’t want anybody to feel like they can’t live with art because of the cost.”

Martin said the focus is not the amount of money they can raise, but bettering the community.

“We are very passionate about accessibility, and providing it in spaces where folks can access it,” they said. “So this is a ‘pay-what-you-can’ ‘yART’ sale, so folks can come, go through artwork, and pay whatever they feel is right and whatever they can.”

Artist Jaci Musec donated some of her artwork to the sale.

“[I] would say it’s very comforting as an artist to see people coming and supporting this kind of project,” she said.

Musec said her art was her contribution to the cause.

“Art is healing. And being able to use our creative passion and our abilities to heal ourselves and help heal each other, through multiple different ways, it’s so important,” she said. “Making art, for me, is a healing process. And then sharing art is a healing process. And it helps motivate others to create or to think differently.”

Over the course of the afternoon, Martin and Bingham raised over $2,000 for Lula Peoria.

“So art, in my opinion, the main thing it does is teach empathy. Because no matter what an artwork’s about, it let’s you have an insight into someone else’s mind, someone else’s perspective, someone else’s view of the world,” Martin said.

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