Arts & Culture, Op Ed, Our City, Our World

Op-ed: Art as Protest


Barring prohibitive discussions about art, I see ‘art’ as a protest or resistance against ‘something’. Personally, I make art to enter into another realm, whether that is a realm of clarity, fantasy, sadness or ecstasy; art is there for us to console or make us feel however way in spite or because of one’s current state of mind.

Put another way, we make art to escape this reality because, and perhaps I have read a bit too much Kierkegaard here, our current reality is a relation to our despairing selves. While vanity can get in the way of one’s art, one can argue it is this vanity that is the ultimately humanizing impetus for folks to stand up for themselves, for folks to continually say, put eloquently by Sylvia Plath ‘I am” but loudly and proudly.

This Graphic of the Boston budget is being tossed around this weak via the Muslim Justice League and the ACLU and I don’t think I can ever look at our city the same way again. NYCPD’s budget is 6 billion — imagine what investing this money in art education could do for so many folks?

Looking at these budgets, it is clear what these cities prioritize, policing their citizens, as opposed to educating or empowering them. While it is an important question to ask the question ‘why?’ I often see art as an interlocutor between the self and society. The process of making a painting, writing a song, making a basket itself proves this in name, but as you know the connection between art, the self, and society is much deeper than just the actual making of fill in the blank.
From the beginning of the Pandemic, I was curious about how this social change will inevitably change how artists and musicians make their music and how that music sounds. While I am as excited as ever to see and experience all of the wondrous art, this tends to be one of the few bright spots I see in my future, call me a cynic, call me realistic, I think they are both equally true.

I also take this time to stress how much deeper art is than just the song, just the poem, just the painting. Art is the entire economy of creative making and relationships, art is also the experiences of the makers and how they move in a society. While it is overly simplistic to say that art=good and not art=bad, I would argue more often than not art is a positive, empowering influence to help people reclaim their narratives of personal emotional experience, and how that relates to the need for equality in an unjust society.

Art is inherently political and seeks to blaze new trails, build new narratives against the status quo, be it art as education, art as a statement, or art for art’s sake. But when I talk about ‘entire creative economies’ I believe it is strongly true that protest is a form of art and narrative building in the broadest sense while also seeing art in its broadest sense.

Now is as good as time as ever to broaden our horizons and make more art in however form you see fit.


Chris Hues is a human & writer from Boston, Ma & Associate Editor of //// They can be reached at [email protected] or @crsjh_ via instagram & twitter.

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