The Talon interviewed teacher Seth Donnelly about his experiences at the political protests he has attended in the past.
Q: How does art influence a protest more than other methods?
Donnelly: Art helps people to connect with why they are at the protest in the first place, whether the protest is progressive or whether it’s standing up for human dignity and environmental justice. What art does, is it celebrates. Even when it’s opposing something, it drives creativity. It’s celebrating the human spirit. Being in a protest where artists are freely expressing themselves, all participants connect to that deeper part of ourselves.
Q: What are some examples of political art that you have seen?
D: I’ve seen huge papier mâché puppets developed by artists collectives for anti-war protests and protests speaking out against corrupt globalization. We’re talking puppets that are hoisted up that are like 10 feet tall. They just immediately call attention to the street protest. I’ve seen amazing work done by artists who make political murals throughout the Bay Area that are there permanently to raise awareness. The murals in the Mission district of San Francisco, many of them by Latin American artists, call attention to struggles for human rights and social justice in Latin America and oppose U.S. imperialism
Q: How does humor play a role in political art?
D: A big part of the creativity with the art is also the humor. A lot of the art is very satirical, which helps people not be so intimidated by power. At the same time, this humor brings out that sort of whimsical creative feeling in all of us.
Q: Any closing thoughts?
D: There is a dialectical relationship between artists and struggle. Artists nourish struggle but struggles can also nourish artists. I could add that we can look at not just visual artists like Frida Khalo or Diego Rivera, but also music. Music is a form of art that has been a huge source of nourishment for any kind of liberation movement.