The Art of Politics

My Super Friend, (a friend, who’s a bit like a super hero), Leslie and her friend, Summer, have put together a great contest/art project which raises political awareness and supports artists. I asked her to talk a bit about the project…

Art of Politics 2008 is a labor of love for me. It is about getting people, particularly younger people, to express which political issues are important but it has ended up being more than that. It has been really exciting to see people who have never entered an art contest feel moved and secure enough to enter ours. We don’t have a ton of criteria and honestly, if you follow the rules and put a little time into it the chances are pretty good you’ll get your work up on the site. I like to imagine people sending the link to their friends and family and saying, “Check it out- I did this!” I like to think we’ve empowered them in some small way.

A woman from Portland sent us the most amazing story (I’ll attach their joint picture): ”

The Art of Politics article in yesterday’s Oregonian inspired me and my five-year-old son, Logan, to create a poster we hope you will enjoy. The article featured a wonderful shot of Wake Up, America, by Jacquelyn Bond, and my son wanted to know why the New York lady was sleeping, what the stuffed elephant meant, and what the objects in the background were he’s never seen the White House or an oil derrick). I explained to him my interpretation as best as I could, and he seemed to understand. After thinking hard for a few moments, he proposed we try our hand at a poster.

Years ago, before my children were born, I heard Jello Biafra speak about the importance of ordinary citizens getting involved in the political process. He stressed that, unlike the mission statements of my parents generation “Don’tt trust anyone over thirty” Turn on, tune in, drop out“ the best way my generation could affect a change was to get involved. He espoused the virtues of joining organizations that appeal to the values we want to see become part of the mainstream. He specifically quoted Gandhi, “Be the change you want”.

Jello Biafra’s words of wisdom have stayed with me, and I took his advice. I joined the League of Women Voters, started volunteering with underprivileged folks in my neighborhood, and held a seat on the City of Portland’s Citizen Campaign Commission. Biafra was right: You really CAN be the change you want.

As Logan and I discussed our poster plans, I told him that the message that was most important to me was to get involved, to work toward making a difference in one’s community. I decided on the statement, Infiltrate the establishment and change it from within. I told him that the word infiltrate” sometimes means you have to be sneaky. Like a ninja?, he asked. (He’s really into ninjas right now.) “Exactly!” I told him. So, he drew a ninja. I told him we needed a way to send the message that the ninja was doing something honorable and wanted to help our country. I told him we needed some symbols. He proposed an American flag. I applauded his efforts. The ninja’s other hand looked so, so empty. “Can I make another flag?”, he asked. I thought that was a fine idea and proposed it contain a peace sign.

There you have it! The story of our poster in less than 500 words!

Jessica and Logan Sweeney

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