Andy's favorite interview quotes of 2020

Andy Downing
Jacoti Sommes

“It was pitch-black, and me, my brother and my sister were afraid to get out of the car. It felt like we were on the edge of the planet, which was why we were so scared, like if we got out of the car we’d all of a sudden be floating in space. That was the first time I saw all of the stars at once, even the Milky Way. And once your eyes adjusted to the dark, you realized the stars were creating light, shining on the car, shining everywhere. I haven’t seen anything like that since, and I’ve tried.” -musician Jacoti Sommes

“Because protests go against the status quo ... folks often want to disparage the acts of protesters as being rude, as being aggressive — any negative attribute you can ascribe. But we really need to look at the way that oppression can be rude, or how oppression and classism and anti-blackness and state violence can be far more destructive than being impolite.” -organizer Dkéama Alexis 

“Most of my art has been done around the idea of being abandoned, or fitting in, or finding family. I was one of those people who didn’t fit in. ... My first piece was called ‘Fending for Yourself,’ and it’s always been that idea of feeling like you’re alone, and trying to find some form of heritage and family.” -artist Richard Duarte Brown

“You know how an Icebreakers tin has the ‘to share’ side and the ‘not to share’ side? I’ve been getting the mints out of the [‘not to share’ side].” -musician Carly Fratianne

“I knew I was documenting some really personal things and I didn’t want to be intrusive, and one time Aramis [Sundiata of People’s Justice Project] kind of nudged me with his elbow, like, ‘Get in there. This is what we want you to capture,’ even though it was Ty’re King’s mother crying right after she learned that her son’s killer wouldn’t be indicted. That was a time for me when I realized it’s important to capture these hard moments. ... People need to see it. They need to see what the effect of that pain is, and how it doesn’t stop at a trial, and it doesn’t stop at a grand jury failing to indict. That trauma lasts and is spread throughout a family, and I don’t think we as a society acknowledge that enough, or even realize it.” -photographer Katie Forbes

“She’s definitely here. I intentionally draw in here and paint in here, because it’s like I’m sitting right beside Aminah. ... I try to keep this space as sacred as possible.” -artist Bryan Christopher Moss, current caretaker of the late Aminah Robinson’s former home

“I don’t think they expected us to be so peaceful, for us to be so joyful, so happy. Because we did lose Julius. Juliusdid lose his life. But not only are we coming together to seek justice for Julius and to mourn his death, we’re also coming together to celebrate because Julius lives.”-Maryam, sister of the late Julius Tate Jr.

“There was a certain point where I realized that if you’re writing about a night out at the bar, usually in that night out you’re thinking, ‘This could be the night something big happens.’ And seven beers later you are walking home like, ‘Well, that was that.’ And nothing happens. And those nights are always [filled with] small details and this imagined, glorious thing that you think will happen, and it never does. Then you wake up and do it all again.”-musician Andy Shauf

“I’m over here saying, ‘The arts are kind of complicit in what is going on in [Franklinton],’ and artists don’t want to hear it, but it’s a conversation we need to have. I’m implicated in that, too. It’s hard. Just being here, realtors will come by and say, ‘Look, we’ve got artists in the neighborhood,’ and the price goes up on the houses.” -Franklinton artist Mona Gazala

“It was always like, ‘We’re number one!’ And we had shirts that said, ‘Number one record store in Austin!’ And I hated that. I didn’t want to be that at all [when we opened]. I’m always the underdog.” -Elizabeth’s Records co-owner David Lewis on the years he worked at Waterloo Records in Austin, Texas

“There are so many painful images that you see of us everyday, and not even just on your TV, but on your phone, on your apps, on your [social media] feeds. And that’s always made me so sad, because it does something to your imagination, to the world’s imagination. So I really want to make things that have love in them. I want to show us smiling. I want to show us loving.” -artist and filmmaker Cameron Granger

“The moral is often that people remember the rumor, they don’t really remember the debunk, or the entire context. In this case, [Nathan Caraway’s name] is going to be forever linked with this idea that he was paying people to riot. ... The internet is that kind of place. ... It can be difficult to shed an identifier, especially when your name and location are attached, and not have it affect you, whether it’s true or not.” -Joan Donovan, social scientist and faculty member at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University

“It’s a community of freaks and geeks coming together and supporting our community in our neighborhood. Somebody had to do it, and there was no one else stepping up. ... It was the porn store and the churches.” -Lacey Thompson, owner of Short North adult shop The Garden

“I cannot in good conscience continue to work for a system that oppresses people and refuses to admit or acknowledge that it oppresses people. This is the least that I could do for our Black community, to step back from this and realize, ‘Wow, I’m guilty. My hands are dirty because I participated in this for the last two years.’ ... Up until now, I don’t think I fully realized that you can’t change the system from the inside, because, at the end of the day, you’re still complicit with laws that inherently discriminate. ... All I can do now is step away from this job and try to make it right.” -Micah Mitchell on his decision to resign from his job as a probation officer with the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas

“The first Prince record I remember hearing wasControversy, and it was so wild and different, and Prince and his band looked so wild and different. ... I have lots of the cliche stories, like I lost my virginity to ‘Erotic City.’ Prince and I go back.” -artist Kent Grosswiler speaking shirtless by phone

“It’s a great area to be in, but you also have to have all of these side conversations, and you accept a lot of unease. You trade the violence of the inner-city for discrimination and prejudice. And what’s really safer? Is it safer to be possibly in fistfights and everything that comes with living in the inner-city? Or do you come out here where your kids possibly still can’t walk down the street because someone might take them as a threat? And that’s something I’ve debated, especially with everything that’s happened here these last few months: Did I make the right decision coming out here to small town U.S.A.?”-Canal Winchester resident Michelle Dudley on the experience of being Black in the majority white community

“I know I’m not the only person going through this, even right here in this city. And maybe some of them haven’t realized it’s a problem yet, or don’t want to admit it, which is where I’ve been the last 10 years or so myself. ... It feels nice to talk about it and be open, because then more people can reach out and share their stories, and maybe that gets more people to think about living.” -beatboxer Ludovic Nicolaidis, aka LethalFX, on the struggle to get clean in the midst of a global pandemic

“Advocating for children is obviously not a bad thing ... but the unexpected downstream consequences can be pretty dire if you have people who are suddenly inclined to be sympathetic to the most dangerous, destructive, anti-science information that circulates within these same QAnon circles. It’s sort of ‘buy one get the rest.’ You don’t just engage with one element of the QAnon narrative; it’s an overarching, sort of wraparound way of seeing the world. So if you’re inclined to think, ‘Well, this piece of the narrative makes sense,’ it’s not unreasonable to think that some people might be more inclined to take seriously the other elements that are demonstrably dangerous.” -Whitney Phillips, assistant professor of communication and rhetorical studies at Syracuse University, on the QAnon-linked “Save the Children” movement

“This whole show is really just me experimenting, because I hate sand. I hate glitter. But I chose glitter and sand because I wanted to work with something I hated. I thought about working with material that I myself did not understand and would judge openly, almost as a metaphor for how people judge blackness.” -artist David Butler

“I understand not everybody wants to write a protest [song], but how do we not talk about the state of the world we’re in right now? Because it feels pretty dire. So, yeah, I get frustrated when people talk about politics in every other aspect in their lives, but when it comes to using that loud, megaphone voice, they stay away. ... Not that my voice is large, or that writing a song means anything, but it feels like the responsible thing for me to do as an adult. ... I’m trying to dig in and do what I can right here and right now to make this mess a little bit better.” -musician Micah Schnabel