Art & Democracy Fall 2022

Let Us Vote Banner by Aram Han Sifuentes

This fall, I organized a series of exhibitions and events at St. Norbert College associated with an arts-based service-learning course called Art & Creative Democracy. The exhibitions and events were open to the campus and the community. The students in the Art & Creative Democracy course also participated in artistic activism workshops led by the Center for Artistic Activism, which culminated in get-out-the-vote projects on campus and in the larger community with our partners, the Norman Miller Center for Peace, Justice, and Public Understanding, and the Coalition of Voting Organizations of Brown County as part of the C4AA’s nationwide project Unstoppable Voters. St. Norbert College Magazine published a nice feature about the course and our get-out-the-vote efforts, including the banner-making event with Moki Tantoco in association with the Aram Han Sifuentes exhibition Let Us Vote!

There was a nice write-up in the SNC Magazine about some of the events this semester. It can be found here.

Below are descriptions of the exhibitions and events held this semester, with links to the virtual lecture recordings.

In the Bush Art Center Galleries

Let Us Vote! by Aram Han Sifuentes

Baer Gallery: October 3 – October 27, 2022 Exhibition Reception – October 20 / Catalog PDF

This exhibition brings together works by Aram Han Sifuentes that focus on democracy, citizenship, and political participation. The works in this exhibition manifest the notion of democracy as a contested space in which one can gain a political voice through citizenship, protest, or giving voice to those excluded politically. Sifuentes’s work investigates identity politics, immigration, citizenship and belonging, dissent and protest, and racial politics in the United States today. 

A Call To Halt by Brandon Bauer

Permanent Collection Gallery: September 26 – October 27, 2022

A Call To Halt is an installation and critical timeline of the Euromissiles Crisis and the nuclear abolition movement in the United States from 1977-1987. The installation includes a reenactment of the 1982 Nuclear Freeze Referenda, in which Wisconsin was the first in the nation to put international nuclear disarmament policy to a popular vote.

Angry Sandwich People or in Praise of Dialectics by Chto Delat?

Media Space Gallery: August 29 – October 27, 2022

In this piece, the Russian art collective Chto Delat? (What is to be done?) imagines protest as a form of theatrical happening in urban space by bringing to life Bertolt Brecht’s poem “In Praise of Dialectics”. The action was carried out in close collaboration with two local activist groups, Worker’s Democracy and The Pyotr Alexeev Resistance Movement at Stachek Square. In 1905, striking workers marched on the Winter Palace on this important historic site. 

Art & Society Lectures and Events

September 6 – Aram Han Sifuentes Virtual lecture

Lecture Link:

Aram Han Sifuentes is a fiber and social practice artist who works to claim spaces for immigrant and disenfranchised communities. Her work often revolves around skill sharing, specifically sewing techniques, to create multiethnic and intergenerational sewing circles, which become a place for empowerment, subversion, and protest. This lecture is associated with her exhibition in the Bush Art Center Galleries. 

September 13 – Dmitry Vilensky Virtual lecture

Lecture Link:

Dmitry Vilensky is an artist, writer, and founding member of the Russian art collective Chto Delat? (What is to be done?), a platform initiated in 2003 by a collective of artists, critics, philosophers, and writers with the goal of merging political theory, art, and activism.

September 22 – U.S. Department of Arts and Culture (USDAC) Virtual lecture

Lecture Link:

Founded in 2013, The U.S. Department of Arts and Culture (USDAC) is a “people-powered department” (not a federal agency) committed to supporting individuals and organizations in mobilizing creativity in the service of justice.

September 28 – Center for Artistic Activism lecture

The Center for Artistic Activism has helped build, sustain, and develop the field of artistic activism since its inception in 2009 through innovative research and by providing free resources and training to artists and organizations worldwide.

October 18 – Bun Stout and Aram Han Sifuentes in Conversation

Conversation Link:

A conversation between Bun Stout, Aram Han Sifuentes, and the students in the Art & Creative Democracy course about developing art projects based on political research.

October 20 – Get Out The Vote Banner Making Workshop with Moki Tantoco in the Mulva Library First Floor Flex Space

This banner-making workshop is associated with the Aram Han Sifuentes Exhibition in the Bush Art Center Galleries.

November 15 – Oliver Ressler Virtual lecture

Lecture Link:

Oliver Ressler is an artist who lives and works in Vienna, Austria. He produces theme-specific exhibitions, projects in the public space, and videos on issues such as democracy, capitalism, and social alternatives to our existing political realities. His work blurs the boundaries between art and activism.

November 17 – Jonas Staal Virtual lecture

Lecture Link:

Jonas Staal is a Dutch visual artist. His work deals with the relationship between art, democracy, and propaganda.

Special Thanks to The Norman Miller Center for Peace, Justice, & Public Understanding, The Sturzl Center for Community Service and Learning, The Honors Program, The Office of Student Inclusion and Belonging, The Mulva Library, the Bush Art Center Galleries, and the Art Department for support of this programming.

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