5C Art for Liberation catalyzes mutual aid by platforming local artists

A pair of crocheted frog earrings are held in the palm of a hand
5C Art for Liberation is an Instagram page featuring art pieces created by 5C students. (Courtesy: Sydney Nemetz)

Crochet fruit earrings, embroidered T-shirts and polymer clay pendants are just some of the pieces created by 5C students showcased on 5C Art for Liberation, a collaborative Instagram page showcasing a wide array of works while supporting local community funds and organizations.

Run by Kali Tindell-Griffin PO ’22 and Mei Ge PO ’23, the page promotes student-made artwork to use subsequent funds made in sales to support an organization of the artist’s choice — these range from liberation collectives dedicated to empowering BIPOC communities to mutual aid funds local to the artists.

“Instagram is easy for selling the visual because that’s all you get — you just see the art,” Ge said. “It’s not clicking this and clicking this and waiting for a reply to stuff — it’s all there. It’s super easy to process as a consumer.”

Once on Instagram, they wanted to create a platform to connect 5C artists with other members of the community.

“I noticed that a lot of students were selling work, but they [were] selling it from their individual Instagrams,” Tindell-Griffin said. “Both of us thought that it would be easier for everyone to have a centralized place where people could find the artwork and people could sell the artwork.”

The page is open to any and all artists, even those outside of the Claremont Colleges. For potential artistic collaborators, there is a simple process to connect with the page: Those interested fill out a Google Form linked in the account’s bio, submit photos of their work and then negotiate directly with potential buyers.

The artists’ independence is a deliberate choice by the account owners to help support the creators and their respective crafts, especially during a remote semester where students may not have access to all the supplies they would on campus.

“As a Pomona student, to participate in something like [Nobody Fails at Scripps] makes me feel like the 5C community is still alive.” —Kali Tindell-Griffin PO ’22

“One part of the way that we’ve decided to help artists is that the artists can decide how much they want to donate and how much they want to reserve for covering the cost of their own supplies or the cost of the aid that they need,” Tindell-Griffin said. 

As the page has grown, the owners have moved from solely working with artists to collaborating with other organizers. Most recently, the page worked together with Nobody Fails at Scripps to host a student art raffle. The page owners believe the recent collaborations speak to the community potential of the platform. 

“As a Pomona student, to participate in something like [Nobody Fails at Scripps] makes me feel like the 5C community is still alive,” Tindell-Griffin said. “I was really happy [Nobody Fails at Scripps] reached out to me even though I’m not a Scripps student to participate.”

Both owners and collaborating artists on the page view art as having more potential for social change than is often ascribed to it. Sydney Nemetz SC ’25, an artist who recently worked with the page to sell crochet frog earrings for various aid organizations, regards using art as mutual aid a testament to the medium’s underlooked potential. 

“Art is one of those things that’s both uplifted by society and then also sort of derided — people love to consume art, but then they also see art as a non-viable career path. So, I think it’s cool to use art as a means to help people financially, because usually art is not seen as a good financial source,” Nemetz said. 

Ge believes the active cultivation of a space for artists to share their projects is another crucial way to support them.

“A different way of thinking about mutual support is just seeing everyone else’s art, seeing what everyone else is making and feeling inspired yourself — but then also having a very safe space to be able to be like, ‘Yeah, this is what I’ve been working on, too,’” Ge said. 

Artists and owners alike also think that using art as a means of mutual aid can help draw in people who may not be very inclined to get involved. One such artist is Jacinda Lee PO ’24, who also recently collaborated with the page to sell stickers for a local community fund.

“I think it’s easier to convince people to get involved when they think that they get to support local artists, or that they get cool art pieces out of their donation,” Lee said.

Tindell-Griffin echoed a similar sentiment.

“[People] are also very likely to purchase works so that they get something when they’re making a donation instead of just directly making a donation,” she said. “Obviously, there are flaws in that, and that is frustrating, and ideally, people would just make donations, but if there is a way to incentivize them to make donations, I think artists have really good positions to do that, as long as they do have the supplies.”

As the page continues to grow and students continue on with the remote semester, Ge and Tindell-Griffin hope to continue connecting with and boosting as many artists as possible and fostering the community surrounding the page. They are also hoping to shift from working independently with artists and organizations to connecting artists and organizations. 

At the core of the page’s mission is still wanting to continue to display the power and potential of art.

“I feel like all art is political, and so to use your creativity to raise funds for people that are close to you, people in your community or people in other communities that are also looking for aid, is a really powerful way to work on your art practice,” Tindell-Griffin said. “You’re only going to get better the more art you make, and I think to be making art for the benefit of other people is very fulfilling.”

To learn more about 5C Art for Liberation, visit their Instagram.

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