Second Helpings Atlanta Group

Second Helpings Atlanta Group

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By Madelon Morford [Documentary Group]

As social and creative beings, we understand the abilities of seemingly simplistic materials to create a work much more complex. But if we actively go beyond this ability to create “something out of nothing” and also think deliberately of the impact, interpretations, and implications of the piece to the audience, artists and activists are able to send larger messages that reflect the sociopolitical climate at the time of its creation. What starts as paint, paper, and fabric stretched over a frame, with the help of a squeegee, and combined with the effort’s and brainstorming of artists and socially engaged students from many diverse areas of study, art can be created that becomes an integral tool in itself from which an idea, movement, or statement can be made. Atlanta artist, Jamaal Barber, does just this with his printmaking work.


This spring Barber partnered with Film, Media, and Social Engagement students at Emory University to reflect these values of deliberate and socially engaged art. A quote on Barber’s studio website,, speaks to the mission of his work: 

An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times.” – Nina Simone

This quote is reflected in Baker’s printmaking work, and he extends his gift by passing his knowledge to the students. Jamaal also explains, “I am leaving to the students the whole process of, how do YOU spread the message? I suggested going somewhere and blanketing one area with the posters, or sending them to people. But regardless we’re going to be coming up with 500, 600 posters, so you can do a lot of stuff with that. So I’m looking forward to seeing what they do.”.

As he and the students, Gabrielle, Scott, Devan, and Coby work together on this project, Barber provides the students with the opportunity to not only be active in thinking about the message their work is sending and the potential impact and engagement of their creations, but he also teaches them the technicals in the art of printmaking. With its various-stepped process, printmaking can be complicated, but also can be very engaging and fun if you have the right instructor guiding the process.

Holding Words


“I love art that has a message. And I think this project particular has a very strong message where you’re teaming up with someone who is taking their time to address a need in the community. A completely volunteered effort, they don’t have to do any of this stuff. So that’s the kind of stuff I’m attracted to in my art. Art has to say something and mean something. It is only perfect to be with somebody who’s out there changing the world”, explains Jamaal about what he appreciates about the organization and the project partnership.

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