“I learned as an artist and as an individual (perhaps it's more accurate to say that I have relearned) about an essential component necessary for making art with social justice narratives - I learned to learn by listening.”
Phil O’Malley divided his renewal process between visiting museums and continuing his education in videography and video editing. “My intention with my renewal grant was to find my social conscience voice and to use video art as the vehicle to share my voice.” Visiting Washington, D.C. became a lesson in the sobering aspects of U.S. history, evident in museums like the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, and the Whitney Plantation museum in Louisiana. At the Holocaust Museum, he held the ID card and life story of a real person, Irmgard, who lived during the atrocity. “My creative renewal came from these investigations at these museums in my hope to apply this new found awareness and knowledge about these horrors committed on other human beings,” O’Malley said. “I've learned more about my white privileged place in our society while incorporating my enhanced social conscience into my art.”
For the other half of his fellowship, O’Malley indulged in videography. One of his first projects was to create a video documentary of the Lois Main Templeton exhibition at the Indiana State Museum. “The new video equipment, editing software, and the corresponding tutorials have opened a new world of artistic methods for me to create new works,” O’Malley said. To further exercise his videography skills, he collaborated with Indianapolis artist Clayton Hamilton towards creating a social justice themed exhibition that
will include several video narratives. “These will consist of many clipped statements from individuals from many videoed interviews of several individuals who work as artists, politicians, laborers, teachers, and in other corners of our community.” He has learned the key to making art with social justice narratives is to listen first.