A Time For Protest Art

There is something about making art that has a clear message of discontent. And I truly believe that as artists we have a responsibility to be visual in that discontent. Some of the best art work of protest can be seen in the posters from the March on Washington. The clever phrasing and graphics that got right to the point of protesting the unbelievably sorry state of what the election here in the United States has dragged us down to as a society. We all know that we are better than this but somehow we just let it happen. We ignored our ability to process the consequences of the votes some of us cast while others gave in to the indecisiveness of who was worthy and kept those votes un-tallied. Rather to make no choice through a fear of making the wrong choice.  And then a vast number just preferred to stay home on election day. So here we are, waiting for a government of some of the most ignorant, self-centered politicians to chip away at our rights and our freedoms. And if not ours, then someone else’s. Either way we are all losing.

So this past weekend with two long-time resident students here in my studio we talked and worked on little else. Luckily I have no artist friends who are not liberal and progressive in their political views. I respect those who have different views than mine and would fight for their right to maintain those views. But I have lost patience with the their willingness to stay so incredibly uninformed on the facts of where we are headed as a nation, a society and responsible steward for the environment of future generations.

I added to my pincushion collection by making a second in what is surely to become a series of notorious nincompoops working in concert to keep themselves in power by being arbiters of their falsehoods presented as truths. And unfortunately this is easy for them to do with an angry population of discontented citizens and a Congress filled to the brim with a need to push agendas that ten years ago would have seemed extremely uncivilized and detrimental to our diverse population. They can’t work fast enough to shove through their small world views while we are distracted with the constant machinations of an inner circle in need of some therapy.

Needless to say I have ordered additional colors of  felt to make up more figures for holding the pins that are such a pleasure to plunge into them.

We checked to make sure that using the American flag as an art statement is protected under the first amendment. So one of us got right on that while artists are still being protected…perhaps no longer educated or funded, but protected. I really like where this particular piece is going.

Our losses and injuries as a nation with added text and more references to healing.

And another one worked on this book.

The interesting thing about this period of American book covers is that most of the covers were designed by women as were the illustrations and in most cases the authorship as well. Interesting.

So once opened it was stream of consciousness writing inspired by our present political situation and the words in the titles.

And other pages rich for interpretation.

I feel more hopeful spending time with these two artists/writers. We won’t be silent and we won’t “go along”. It was heartening this weekend to also hear from friends around the world who like my pincushions and shared suggestions of how to pose and photograph them. And still more are making their own to poke sharp things into.

I also heard this weekend about friends designing postcards to mail to those politicians experiencing the protectiveness of self-imposed isolation. Bravo! We need to keep making our voices heard through actions and art. It is going to be a nasty and bumpy road as we try to reach some agreements on who we are in this country and earn back some of the respect we have lost in the world. Thank you to those who march, those who write letters and those who make art. We all need to pay attention.