Avidya is sanskrit for ignorance.
And it's the name of Travis Pearson’s film production company.
Most people don't ask what it means.
Of the name, Travis says, "We are more in a state of not knowing than knowing, and I feel that ignorance's two forms are willful ignorance or benign ignorance—where a lot of people just don't know—and I mean to always be a student. It's always been my mantra that everything I do will always provoke ideas in the arts."
Travis is most commonly known as the filmmaker behind America Street, which was first screened during the Charleston Film Festival in 2014, and depicts a black family trying to overcome the challenges of their neighborhood and their lives in a racially-charged city: Charleston.
Travis has been making films since he was 14, because he didn’t see a lot of representations of himself. “Ourselves. I wanted to tell our stories. I grew up during the Civil Rights Movement, and film was an outlet. It helped me understand that the world is a lot bigger than the block.”
He continued, “I love film. It’s the most powerful delivery system on the planet. Right now, I don’t just want talk, I want to move people to action.”
So, Travis also co-founded the Black Collective, a group with an online presence and following that has thus far sat down with Killer Mike and Bernie Sanders, Mayor Tecklenberg, and Erica Garner, daughter of the late Eric Garner. The Black Collective is about making black voices heard. “I take a quote from poet Saul Williams, ‘My sound system is louder than your belief system.’ The reason why we play that loud music is to try and drown out the political.”
The main character of America Street has had his tongue cut out, which is to say he’s voiceless, which is to point out the lack of black male voices in America.
Travis says, "The big push is more diversity, to end the ignorance of people not being aware of new voices."
Words by Elizabeth Bowers
Words by Gately Williams