The Catalyst Arts Movement is changing the way the diverse population of Dallas connects and thrives through the power of public art – one mural at a time. For Catalyst, the mission is simple: to inspire people to connect to art in order to ignite resilience and self-worth. Catalyst was founded by UCLA student, Cristina Girod ’17 and University of Texas at Austin student, Katherine Allen, ’18 in 2012 and quickly joined by SMU Meadows student, Angie Reisch ’18. While all three women have varied interests and are located across the country, they share a common goal of connecting the city of Dallas through art with the belief that we are all humans – we are all catalysts.
Catalyst has already started making a difference locally through their “Coffee and Creativity” program at the downtown J. Erik Jonsson Central library. The program, which was implemented in March 2014 in partnership with the library’s existing Homeless Engagement Initiative, caters to the library’s homeless customers. “Coffee and Creativity” is aimed at opening up dialogue between library staff, patrons of the library, and the homeless population by using open art classes as a common platform for the diverse groups to connect on. According to Allen, “Catalyst is a conversation starter. It is the recognition we can all make change if we find our voices.” The art classes are a testament to that simple yet powerful notion; they have established a community that not only recognizes the homeless population’s existence but also values and cares for them.
While the “Coffee and Creativity” classes have been a success, the Catalyst Arts Movement is not content with just stopping there. In Summer 2015, Catalyst will be partnering with the creative innovators at Big Thought for the second annual Dallas City of Learning to create conversation among youth all over the city of Dallas and create murals based on what kids think makes Dallas theirs. This is really what Catalyst is all about, says Reisch: “creating social change and connecting people, one project and one voice at a time.” When asked what Catalyst means to her, Girod responded, “Catalyst means giving people space to view who they are and discovering who they want to be through art.” The Catalyst Arts Movement is doing exactly this and more with no intention of slowing down anytime soon.
Catalyst Arts Movement would like to thank the J. Erik Jonsson Dallas Public Library, Big Thought, and the Dallas City of Learning.