How Art & Bodies Making Sweeping Change
Through NVI’s Spotlight Series, I spoke with world-renowned art activist, David Solnit. He has been described as “Activism’s Renaissance Man,” the co-founder of Art and Revolution, and encourages social movements with participatory activism and performance. David’s art has been used for creative and colorful resistance in Seattle’s World Trade Organization protest in 1999, the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, and the Immokalee farm workers which shut down some of the biggest restaurant franchises.
During my interview with David, we discussed the varied nature of art activism and the different forms of art someone might see during a social movement. “Arts'' can be anything from visual banners or flags to musical arts and performance art. David’s passion is deeply rooted in the belief that at the end of the day all we have to change the world is “our voice, our bodies, and the things we create with our hands.” He emphasized the idea that art created for protests can be an alternative to the propaganda and media that the government uses to alter public relations. Instead of existing to manipulate the narrative, protest arts uplift and highlight the lives of where the art is rooted–in the people.
David quotes Ricardo Levins Morales when speaking about art's role in creating momentum for nonviolent social movements. He suggests that “art speaks directly to the inner spaces where stories are stored.” In effect, this can create sweeping change that Festivals of Resistance use to visualize a better world. My conversation with David was colorful and engaged every one of my senses. Our time together affirmed my belief that resisters have the edge and that everyone can make art. When paired strategically, art can amplify creative struggle and create victories.
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