Protest Art

There isn’t much the ordinary citizen can do about the mess in D.C. these days. At least not until Election Day. But for writers (bloggers included) and musicians, there are ways to express frustration via art.

Looking back, we see many examples. While some works were criticized at inception, later they become accepted, even celebrated.  

So, I took time off from reading the news (and getting angry while at it), to see what those before us wrote to express their dissatisfaction (too bad many works go way back):

 Here is a short list:

 1.  The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Great Social Protest Lit., by Uptown Sinclair.

2.  Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury.

3.  Poems, Protest and a Dream, by Sor Juana Ines de Cruz.

4. Touching Liberty, by Karen Sánchez-Eppler.

 As far as music, most protest songs go back to the ‘60s — the anti-war music.

So, is protest art dead or just not as important as once was?


Image credit:, jonesin’


15 responses to “Protest Art

  1. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury.”Where books are a source of unhappiness and disruption” I remember well that book, can’t recollect the others so I go check them out, cheers for that. ;-)

  2. Leonard Cohen comes to mind in protest music. Much of South African literature is of protest, as also is theatre. May the voices continue to be heard in whatever shape or form.

  3. How about Black Like Me and Soul on Ice from the 60s? I recall being surrounded by protest art in the late 60s, but then I was in the middle of it!
    I think people today are too overwhelmed by the pace of their life to take time to find ways to protest. And maybe artists avoid protest art because of the backlash they might have to endure – we are so polarized!

  4. Many (most?) schools have eliminated teaching art in school as “a waste of time,” superfluous, etc. As you write about here, artists have been behind much of the major changes that have happened throughout history–usually to the benefit of society. Doing art and studying art IS important! Thanks for your post, Silvia!

    • Literature opens up our mind (as do other forms of art). No art is superfluous. It’s a form of thinking — expressing emotion. A way to contribute to the society (as you say). Thanks for reading, Linda.

  5. Pingback: Artistic Destiny | The Posh List

  6. Thanks for the post, your comments inspired my post this morning.

  7. Hi Silvia – we are being way too prescriptive of what others should or should not do .. and not letting our kids, grandkids think for themselves, express themselves … we need to encourage them … and I do admire all who protest, as long as it’s sensible protest …. The South African playwrights, poets, authors were amazing … as too are the protesters from Eastern Europe and Asia …

    We need to think .. and learn to think … and learn to express – and generally be aware of others and lives overseas … cheers Hilary

    • Hilary, I tell my nine-year-old son all the time to think for himself. To not be a follower. And if he does have strong opinions to express them in a civilized manner. Discourse is healthy. My frustration started from watching more than two weeks of news on the stalemate in D.C. Art is usually a peaceful way to protest — or express oneself — and so I wondered if that’s still an art form, as it was in the ’60s, here in the U.S. You mention Eastern Europe. I remember the ’89 Revolution there well, I was in Romania at the time. Many people took to the streets, many wrote about it. Holding frustration in and letting it consume us … that’s probably unhealthy. Thank you for reading and commenting.

  8. I saw an art display in college where inmates from a concentration camp had painted realistic scenes of what was happening first, then painted the “happy” scenes they were forced to paint over them. The real scenes were discovered later.

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