Why Art Matters in The Current Political Era
In the Trump Era, ridiculous immigration policies and fallen international relationships display the alienation of the oppressed. With President Trump’s bigotry on the forefront of the United States, people are taking a stance on Trump’s wrong-doing with the help of art.
One example is the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) showcasing pieces that reflect a mission of solidarity from different countries, signifying that Americans are not okay with Trump’s reign. The institution supports the voices of the banned and oppressed and has begun ensuring that they are heard.
In 2017, the MoMA protested against Trump’s travel ban on seven majority Muslim countries by showcasing a host of work by Iranian, Iraqi, and Sudanese artists. This cross-disciplinary inclusion can be found throughout the MoMA; photography, contemporary art, sculpture, and film disrupt the permanent gallery installations, introducing these pieces into narratives where Middle Eastern influence is often omitted.
By exhibiting artwork from these “banned countries,” the MoMA demonstrates the imperative of accepting and showcasing modes of thought and belief that are politically and socially alienated from Western cultures. Displaying this artwork represents the voices who are silenced, and demonstrates the power of non-compliant art in this political era. Art is a form of expression, it speaks without words. The visual representations reveal unity during a time when politics are pulling people apart.
Art is also humanity. It brings needed compassion for one another through story-telling, impacting one’s life through perspective. Art matters because it tells the stories of those whose voices are so often marginalized. Simply, art brings each story to life.
These works of Middle Eastern art symbolize the importance of compassion and unity in a political era of bigotry and fear. Using art as an act of protest is valuable, and seeing work by an Iranian artist among Dadaist and Post-Impressionist works puts them in conversation about the history of oppressed peoples, and the art they produce in response.
The First Amendment ensures freedom of speech, but is also affirms freedom through art. The beauty of art is captured through critical-thinking — considerations of theme, or color, or mood that we access by observing and problem solving. Speech can only reach so far, but a picture is worth a thousand words. It tells the story of voices who are forcibly silenced. The ones who speak but are muted still find ways to tell their story and fight for freedom. Art displays an individual fight for a cause, and influences us collectively; it intertwines each individual into a shared human experience. Art ensures people’s inherent right to freedom, even when policy is used against them.