TURMOIL AND UNCERTAINTY: RESPONDING TO CIVIL UNREST THROUGH ART

LIAM EASLEY, TRUMPET ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR

“I wonder what we’ll have after all this,” my mother said one day in reference to the observation that after every period of turmoil and uncertainty comes a period of art.

It’s an observation rooted in the post-World War II abstract expressionism and film noir, a genre that is not as much focused on the darkness of the film, but instead the notion that what had resulted from the industrial revolution was the largest known prison cell before “The Truman Show.” It was the cynicism that many people felt at the time visualized on the big screen.

It’s an observation rooted in ancient times as well, when China was in their Warring States Period and from it blossomed Confucianism, Taoism and other philosophies. What is philosophy if not one of the most artistic ways to express knowledge?

There’s no denying it — our current state of unrest has already sparked artistic expression. Street art and other forms of urban art are now more relevant than ever and the plywood placed over windows of street-level businesses have doubled as canvases. It’s an artistic movement that has even seen the destruction of art, as more and more statues that represent deep-seeded and systematic racism are being torn down where they stand.

So, what will we have after all of this?

Denver, Minneapolis and Chicago have witnessed the birth of artwork on the defensive boards placed over windows. Even Kenosha, Wisconsin, has seen this same response. The faces of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and the other individuals whose lives were spent in the name of fear are immortalized by an endless amount of street art.

The near future of art can be seen in the cultural appreciation of those who are underrepresented. It’s a way to bring life to the alleyways and blank walls that would otherwise never attract the eye. It was this exact urban setting that seemed so daunting and was thematic for film noir. We saw our empire from afar and we were proud, but once we were among it, we looked up to see the stars were choked out by high rises.

There are street art festivals, such as Crush Walls in Denver, Colorado, Bright Walls in Jackson, Michigan, and Bushwick Collective Block Party in New York, N.Y., that aim to bring color to otherwise colorless industrial landscapes so that those who grow up within them can be exposed to splendor. The age of urban film noir is soon to be history. We have embraced our ability to not see a wall but to instead see a canvas.

Artwork is often seen as a category reserved for the rich. Pieces are auctioned off at outrageous prices, making the homes of the upper class more colorful, but street artists work for those who cannot afford such art. They bring color to underprivileged communities at no cost so that children and adults alike may be exposed to a life of color.

This is what I hope will come from all this: a more representative subject within artwork, art that is more accessible to the lower class, and to bring color to the neutral tones of urbanization.

MORE BY THIS AUTHOR: MY ER VISIT AMIDST COVID-19 PANDEMIC

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