Prophetic activism represents a new paradigm of the ancient art of prophecy. Bringing together historic conceptions of prophecy with our post-modern cult of the individual, this model offers a contemporary spiritual palliative for our ailing human soul. It introduces a mysticism of action, where the historical search for personal realization is replaced by an ideal of the socially empowered individual, bringing God to life in this world through action. For the prophetic activist artist, the central facet of playing a legislative role through art demands that he or she proffer creative responses to specific problems. More than just venting their spleen, acting on blind emotion or looking to their art-making for cathartic release, prophetic activist artists must consider the issues at hand, understand them and provide a candle to help light the way out of whatever social or cultural morass that they involve themselves. This luminescence is provided through an activation of specific energies through the work of the artist. Here, art, and its historic purpose to raise the human gaze towards the highest aspects of the human spirit find a way out of the mausoleum of the contemporary gallery/museum world, and back into the world of the general public. Using my own experience as an activist/artist, including my Shalom/Salaam Project (www.tomblock.com/shalom.htm), Human Rights Painting Project (www.artsforamnestyinternational.org), and Cousins public art project (www.tempe.gov/arts/PublicArt/AATS.htm), I will limn the philosophical structure of this new manner of envisioning activist art, and then discuss specific manners in which art can be used for activist purposes. Most importantly this session will distinguish between shock or rage art – art that simply points out the horror of war, poverty, our American cultural desiccation or other social ills – and that which moves beyond this expression of anger, towards inserting a healing impetus into the general society.
|Keywords:||Art, Activism, Spirituality|
Artist, Washington, USA
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