SNCC poster, Come Let Us Build a New World Together, 1962, photograph by Danny Lyon. (Credit: Copyright Danny Lyon/Magnum Photos; image reproduction: Joseph A. Labadie Collection, University of Michigan)
“Nicolas Lampert’s A People’s Art History of the United States is a fascinating, if anecdotal, look at the ways activist art propels and augments social change movements. It makes no bones about the fact that it is not an all-encompassing survey of progressive art but is instead a look at the ways specific activists have used visual media – broadly defined to include everything from installations and street theater to painting, sculpture, puppetry, poster-making and photography.
Along the way Lampert interrogates how imagery has been used to promote rebellion against the British; support abolition; boost woman suffrage; honor Chicago’s Haymarket martyrs; contest lynching; oppose World War I; publicize the World War II-era incarceration of Japanese citizens and US-born Japanese Americans; support civil rights and, later, build the Black Panther Party; push museums and galleries to feature more women and people of color; oppose nuclear power; support People with AIDS; and build a more peaceful and egalitarian world.”
full review posted on Truthout.
Here is a link to a one-hour radio interview that I did with Norman Stockwell on The Public Affairs radio show on W.O.R.T. – a community radio station in Madison, Wisconsin. The interview walks through the book and discusses examples ranging from wampum belts, abolitionist art, the I.W.W., and numerous other examples of art and activism.
Link to an extensive review by Paul Mullan of A People’s Art History of the United States for Red Wedge Magazine. Mullan’s review goes far beyond that of a book review: it is a review about why activist art matters and why a focus on looking outside the art world for this type of work is so critical.
Excited to share the news that The New Press will release the paperback version of A People’s Art History of the United States on October 6, 2015. The paperback version is listed at $21.95.
Here is another excerpt from A People’s Art History of the United States. This excerpt starts at the beginning of the chapter and discusses the Paterson Pageant in 1913 and the alliance of IWW strike organizers, silk workers, and Greenwich Village avant-garde artists.
Here is a link to a October 2014 PAH book review from Cultural Organizing.org which closes with a great quote/synopsis: “The book is less an ode to the power of using art to create change, and more a complex exploration of how the arts are always political, and have long been a part of struggles over justice — we just have to look in the right places.”
Full text here.
Here is another excerpt from A People’s Art History of the United States. This excerpt starts with the introduction to the chapter and then segues to the middle section. I chose to highlight this chapter this month because of the past/present connections to the the tactics of the Groundwork action. A broad coalition of artists across the country and beyond, including some of us in Justseeds, are currently working on projects to bring creative activism to New York City in September for the People’s Climate March (September 21, 2014) to address the climate crisis. In researching the Groundwork project in 1989 I was inspired by the scale of their vision and how they harnessed street art and tactical media. They set out to cover the five boroughs of New York with 10,000 stencils during the spring and summer of 1989. They recognized that to make a dent in all the visual noise in New York City that you had to think along the scale of the city. Here is the excerpt.
This year marks the 50th Anniversary of Freedom Summer – or the Mississippi Summer Project. Here is an excerpt from A People’s Art History of the United States that discusses the history and the role of photographers who documented the movement- specifically Danny Lyon and SNCC Photo. The excerpt starts at the mid-point of the chapter.
Recently I gave myself a design challenge. Come up with 8 new names to replace the blatantly offensive name – the Washington Redskins – and choose a name and helmet design that references movement culture and social justice. Here is my post on the Justseeds blog with the names, designs, and the pros and cons for each one. And yes I do want to see the Washington March become the new name.