Art & Social Action

Pink Pussyhats Obama 17 Pink Pussyhats, 2017.

I made this for the “End of Times 2” print exchange, organized by Mary Bruno.

Like many, I am still reeling in the wake of the 2016 election. There are two quotes that keep me from sinking into complete despair, the first by writer Toni Morrison:

This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.

I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge — even wisdom. Like art.

The second, and maybe even more significant on a personal level, was a call to action posted on FB by a friend:

Artist friends: society needs you so much right now, to show us what we look like, what we sound like, how we are thinking, feeling, and acting. We need your unflinching honesty, tender and compassionate, to map the depths of our darkness, and light the coming renaissance.

What I find most inspiring is the inherent hope and power in these quotes, the trust from others that we, as artists, will take up our tools and work hard, maybe harder than ever, so we can raise the tide. Months ago, when Mary called and suggested we start a second round of End of Times, I said yes, half from disbelief and half from a need to do something, anything, that would bring a light to the darkness, to create a sign of hope in days that continue to grow darker.

In my Design Two class, I give a project on Art and Social Action. In addition to creating work that draws attention to an environmental issue, the students identify an artist/artist’s collective in their medium of choice who are making work to create change and present this artist/work to the class. One thing it teaches the students is that they are becoming empowered to get their message to people and make a difference, and that this is happening by creating art.

When we make, create, and add to beauty in the world, giving from our whole hands and hearts, I think we affect the greater balance in a positive way. This is one small contribution.