One of the alluring aspects the Occupy movement is the art it has generated. Days after OWS burst onto the scene, artists quickly set to work depicting the energy and message of the 99 percent movement. There are fine artists such as Molly Crabapple who composed intricate pen and ink drawings of fat cats and vampire squids against fairies of hope; star studded musicians inspired with the recently released “Occupy this Album,” featuring Laudon Wainwright III, Willie Nelson, Tom Morello and Immortal Technique; and of course the whimsical and iconic Adbusters photo of the ballerina dancing atop Wall Street’s raging bull.
But parallel to these high profile endeavors, Occupy opened up the opportunity for the rest of the 99% to get creative. Some of the most iconic images of the fall protests were simple, thoughtful statements scrawled on pieces of cardboard by untrained hands. Here are a few of our favorites:
“My Cardboard Can Beat Your Billboard”
“The Police Are One Layoff Away From Joining Us.”
“We don’t make demands, so this is just a suggestion.”
“Sorry for the Inconvenience, We Are Trying to Save the World.”
“You Know Things Are Messed Up When the Librarians Start Marching.
Throughout history, artists have joined forces with political movements to battle injustice and demand a better and more beautiful world. Picasso’s “Guernica” captured the horrors of the German bombing of civilians in 1937. “Solidarity Forever,” “We Shall Overcome,” and “Give Peace a Chance” expressed the optimism and power of the labor, civil rights, and peace movements. Delacroix’s “Liberty Leading the People” embodied the utopian fervor of the French Revolution. Shepard Fairey’s Obama “Hope” silkscreen during the 2008 election captured America’s yearning for a more visionary politics. Great upheavals demand great art.
But Occupy went a step further, spurring thousands of average folks to become cardboard poets. This month we welcome these new artists into our tent and thank the 99% for joining us at the crossroads of art and activism.