Engage the world through art

The art of political movement can help us understand our society.

by Tiffany Trawick

Throughout the years, whenever there has been a revolution or political movement, art always seems to accompany it, whether itâÄôs the literature of the romantic era, the revolutionary poetry of the Harlem Renaissance or the music that took off in relation to the Vietnam protest movement.
Time has proven that there is a power in art. Art has the ability to unite masses of people; it invites people to feel a sense of community about something, even in times of disagreement and turmoil and devastation. At the same time, it informs people of certain issues in society and shares a political message with the community, thus promoting, and inevitably creating, change.
Occupy Wall Street is the newest large-scale political movement taking place in our country. Countless people are gathering around the country, even in areas outside of New York and Washington, D.C., including Minneapolis.
What caught my attention when I first started hearing about Occupy Wall Street was one of its posters, which had an image of the charging Wall Street bull with a ballerina dancing peacefully upon its back.
This reminded me of something English playwright William Congrieve said: âÄúMusic hath charms to soothe the savage beast.âÄù This is representative of how music and other art forms have a way of peaceably calming violence that we encounter.
There is art all around us, but because most forms of art are silent or wordless, we often miss out on it or donâÄôt recognize it. But we must realize that art is created to share a message, to promote change and to speak to us, in whatever medium that may be.
We have many artists right here within our own community who use their art to voice their opinions about the world.
Orlando Hunter, 21, is a junior at the University of Minnesota and also a dancer for Threads and Contempo Physical, dance companies based out of Minneapolis. He says, âÄúArt is a must for revolution.âÄù He emphasized that art can often be used as a way to inform the public about issues going on in our society.
On October 15, revolutionary Civil Rights poet Amiri Baracka visited the University  for a public discussion at which Orlando performed a piece he choreographed to BarackaâÄôs poem, âÄúThe New Invasion of Africa,âÄù which tackled issues of black suppression in the past, and its lasting impressions in the present.
Hunter says one of the main aims in the creation of his pieces is to bring attention to political issues.
I believe it is the responsibility of the artist to do just this. Whenever given any type of platform, it should be used to create a positive impact on the world around us through informing.
In order to have an impact, however, people must be engaged with art, which isnâÄôt as accessible, as say, television. But there is much we can do to change that, especially in the city of Minneapolis, and more specifically at the University.
Hunter suggested students could pick up a City Pages magazine, which has information on countless art shows and performances going on locally. There are productions going on all throughout the school year at the Barbara Barker Center and the Rarig Theater as well, both of which are on campus.
Staying tuned in to the world of art is a way to be tuned in to society. Art is too often overlooked even though it is so prevalent âÄî and it only becomes more important during political movements like Occupy Wall Street. Just as art engages with the issues of the current day, we must likewise engage with the art.