Atlanta-based multi-disciplinary artist and performer Aileen Loy’s activism has always informed her work. Her art assemblages with showings in galleries in Atlanta and Prague, and custom pieces for shows like Doom Patrol and The Orignals, challenge the majority culture view of normalcy. Her gravelly low voice and earnest performances as lead singer of bands in Europe and the US have likewise surprised and challenged the audience’s complacent views of gender and live performance. Her productions of Katherine Dunne’s Geek Love in New York and Unidentified Human Remains in Nashville, with their unsettling subjects and high production values, insist on the right for non-traditional voices to be part of public conversation.
Separately as a street activist and person of conscience Aileen has participated in grassroots protests, undergone medic training, and incorporates small-scale community support as an individual on a daily basis.
In recent years, Aileen has pursued more intentional and impactful efforts to combine her artistic expression with her activism.
In response to school book bans, Aileen began building and distributing one-of-a-kind installations stocked with banned books. With their unconventional designs and placement in high-trafficked public venues, these “Little Free Contentious Libraries” attract greater interaction and encourage the venues and patrons to help volunteers keep them stocked. Half a dozen have been adopted by small businesses and theatres in Atlanta with more on the way.
When Covid struck she put aside all her ongoing projects and, at her own expense, organized pop-ups at events throughout the city where she gave away literally thousands of decorative protective masks she’d hand-sewn herself. As intended, their appeal as a fashion accessory and the care and deliberation with which recipients chose their mask encouraged more frequent and widespread use. On what she hoped would be an equally impactful note, Aileen chose to give out all of the masks gratis. By removing the transactional element as both artist and activist, her goal was to instill a sense of communal responsibility and mutual support in all who chose to take a mask.
It’s a happy coincidence that Aileen’s initial work with Fair Count was in the role of the PPE manager; she organized, kitted, and helped to distribute over 200k masks to residents at events throughout Georgia. That same dedication has been brought to her more recent work as the new Volunteer Coordinator for Fair Count, doing what she can to instill a sense of safety and support among all the volunteers and team members.
Fair Count is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to partnering with Hard to Count (HTC) communities to achieve a fair and accurate count of all people in Georgia and the nation in the 2020 Census, and to strengthening the pathways to greater civic participation. The mission has expanded to include extensive programming around redistricting and voting. Our Vote-365 initiative started November 8, 2021 and is actively organizing and educating, in Georgia’s most marginalized communities, to make sure everyone can vote in 2022.
WHYlie the Whale
Through Unstoppable Voters, Aileen amplified the joy at Fair Count events with flying whales. You read that right — giant flying whales.
With the help of these whales, Aileen and Fair Count’s objective is to collect 40,000 Commit To Vote cards in the 40 Georgia counties where there are many people who are registered to vote, but they don’t vote either at all or often.
WHYlie the Whale and its whale friends have become a core part of the Fair Count’s Vote-365 Bus Tour, where they are visiting each of these 40 counties through Election Day.
Aileen on being an Unstoppable Voters Fellow
Prior to the program: This is a singular opportunity — a chance to meld my artistic side with my work in activism in a more intentional manner. I’m looking forward to the mentorship and to being inspired by the other fellows and their work.
During the program: The fellowship with C4AA provides active resources, mentorship, and a cohort of like-minded individuals that provide access, keen insight, and a good shoulder to laugh/cry on.– Aileen Loy, Volunteer Coordinator, Fair Count