Nouveau Artivism: Cheyenne van Alphen

By Sharon Verhoeks

Political activism through social media heavily increased during the summer of 2020. The main reason for this were the Black Lives Matter protests all over the world. Social media also allowed the digital rebirth of artivism. M.K. Assante wrote the following about the term, which origins can be found in Los Angeles, in his book ‘It’s Bigger than Hiphop’;

‘‘The artivist (artist + activist) uses her artistic talents to fight and struggle against injustice and oppression—by any medium necessary. The artivist merges commitment to freedom and justice with the pen, the lens, the brush, the voice, the body, and the imagination. The artivist knows that to make an observation is to have an obligation.’’ 

Cheyenne van Alphen (21), known for her abstract portraits, is one of those artists who is inspired by the world around her and the politics involved with it. She was born on the small island Goeree-Overflakkee in the province Zuid-Holland. Her grandfather started the political party Eiland van Vrijheid (not related to the nationalist Freedom party PVV) during his thirteen years of service in the local council. Cheyenne is an active member of the party and we can find her name on the third position. ‘I’ve been involved with politics since I was very young because of my grandfather’s occupation. My father and my grandfather were members of the Dutch labour party (PvdA) for many years before the creation of Eiland van Vrijheid’

Till this day, politics still involve her daily life. ‘I think this is because I’m interested in what is going on in society. Politics play an important role in society and that’s why I paint about it. It’s a way to express what topics you find important and create awareness about them.’ Cheyenne mentions the Black Lives Matter movement as an important movement, but also the climate. ‘I think it’s too easy to look away from problems now which will eventually influence our future. A drawing can influence people and unconsciously force them to think about it. A small step can create a movement.’

When asked what political party Cheyenne will vote on this year, she mentions that she found it hard to make a decision. ‘Eventually I chose the Labour party. I think my views are best displayed by them out of all parties, but I feel comfortable with most leftist parties.’ Cheyenne thinks it’s important that people start to relate to socialist values more. ‘But that doesn’t mean that voting right is bad per se, we need a certain balance! However, I think it’s important to step up for those who are less fortunate or being left behind in order to create equal opportunities.’