Art as Social Revolution

Art as Social Revolution



‘When working with educators and activists who have not had experience with the power of art in the struggle for justice, I often find myself answering questions about what art can really do in the face of injustice. Art can help visualize the problems we are fighting against, imagine a better future, and amplify our messages to a wide audience. In fact, visual and performing art have been at the core of some of the most successful campaigns for social justice in history.

We need ways of organizing that lift our spirits as we fight. Our days are now paced by a persistent, arrhythmic drumbeat of terrible news. In these times, I find that I have competing urges. The first is to misbehave more brazenly and bravely than I have in the past. I also feel compelled to recenter myself on a spiritual path as a result of anguish that I can only barely contain — but to do so in a way that stokes a fire of fierce love, which is a necessary fuel for resistance and for imagining a better, more just world. We need to create practices of resistance that also center on caring for ourselves and one another.’
Kim Cosier
Teacher educator, activist, artist and member of the Art Build Workers

Art Build Workers
Overpass Light Brigade
UMOS Mural Project

Art Build Workers

The Art Build Workers (ABW) are a group of seven artists, designers, photographers and educators who are based in Milwaukee, WI. They work locally and travel around the country organizing multi-day art builds that help unions, organizations and movements amplify their messages through visual art, media, and archiving.

Art Builds – Activist arts-based community events

‘Art builds provide spaces for movement-building for social justice. They create opportunities for activists and artists to work together to imagine a more just world. Art builds can be big or small, national or local, thousands of teacher activists or mini-art builds in elementary classrooms.’

Overpass Light Brigade

‘The Overpass Light Brigade was forged in the activist climate of the Wisconsin Uprising. Our messages shine at night over highways and other public spaces. We believe in the power of communities coming together in physical space, as well as the importance of visibility for grassroots and progressive causes. We are a loose and inclusive affiliation of people dedicated to the power of peaceful protest and artful activism.’

Black Lives Matter Message I-43
Image by Joe Brusky

UMOS Project

The UMOS Project was a mural and oral history project lead by an educator and artist along with UWM student researchers, artists, volunteers, youth members of ArtWorks for Milwaukee, historians and a documentarian who all worked together to honor the 50-year history of UMOS (United Migrant Opportunity Services).

‘This mural not only connects the agricultural movement to that of immigrant workers demanding jobs at foundries and breweries, but it also demonstrates how history applies to current events and ongoing struggles for equality.’
Raoul Deal.

Please scroll forward to the 19:39 mark for a story on the UMOS Mural by Portia Young.

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