As artists, how do we respond to our times? Simone did it with protest songs. American author Upton Sinclair (1878-1968) did it with muckraking books. For example, in 1906, his classic novel, The Jungle, exposed horrendous conditions in the U.S. meat packing industry and caused a public uproar that, a few months later, helped bring about passage of the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act. After the Nazis devastated the Basque town of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War, Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) responded by painting "Guernica." It was exhibited widely and brought world attention to the war in Spain. In his statement read to the American Artists Congress in New York in 1937, he said:
Artists who live and work with spiritual values cannot and should not remain indifferent to a conflict in which the highest values of humanity and civilization are at stake.
There are so many other musicians, painters, sculptors, and writers I could cite from the past. Today there are also countless artists responding to physical and cultural genocide, racism, homelessness, homophobia, xenophobia, women's rights, human trafficking, the global refugee crisis, political repression, cruelty to animals, environmental degradation, extinction of flora and fauna, and so much more. I know some of them and have the seen the work of others.
What issues move you to create art that expresses your opinion about them?
If you are not politically inclined to bring attention to an injustice or crisis, how do you respond to the times you live in?
How do you respond to art that is clearly a protest against some inequity? Does it stimulate you into taking action? Or are you not drawn to it because it horrifies and depresses you?