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  • But tonight, here in our encampment, as we try to keep warm, feed ourselves
    go to the bathroom, clean our clothes, dry our bedding organize, organize, organize
    when I look up at the stars I don’t curse them for not allowing me to fall amongst them
    or for leaving me behind, finite. In the constellations I don’t see the old myths
    but make new connections. Our circles around the sun, our cosmic cycles
    are no longer a monotonous, boring routine to me. Tonight, gravity has a purpose.
    It holds me to a place I want to occupy.

    From "The Stars Say We Belong"
    by James C. Henderson

    Art is language about culture.

    Whether the art is smudgy deer, bison, or silhouettes of hands on the cave walls of Lascaux, Goya’s subversive paintings and his “Disasters of War,” Andy Warhol’s lithographs of attack dogs at the Selma Civil Rights Marches, or Justin Bua’s monumental “Legends of Hip Hop,” artists hold up a mirror to a culture, animate our shadows and our dreams, and are often the conscience of an epoch, an era, or a civilization, bringing abstract concepts of mysticism, protest, rebellion or transcendent beauty into artifacts that become intensely personal. The tribal Shaman, for example, is a gifted multi-media artist. a Wayfinder who holds the vision for his community and translates the numinous into the known.

    Picasso’s “Guernica,” Rembrandt’s “Night Watch,” Monet’s “Water Lilies," Christo’s “ Running Fence," or James Turrell's visionary "Rodan Crater," can bring tears to your eyes, because they speak to something transcendent and unique about our human condition.

    So art, at its best, is a language, an invitation to see life in perhaps a new way, understand ourselves, and understand the tectonic social forces invisibly at work around us. In it’s outrageous disregard for propriety and convention, Marcel Duchamp’s “Fountain” (the infamous urinal) is now regarded by many critics as a major landmark in Twentieth Century Art. In basically saying “Eff you all!” Duchamp opened the floodgates to Dada and in one sweeping gesture, created a radical environment for art as we careened into new, deconstructed Postmodern reality.

    Two years after Duchamp's "The Fountain," in 1919, William Butler Yates carried forward the statement and spirit of Duchamp in his poem, “The Second Coming” which captured the prevailing angst of post-war Europe:

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

    At a time when much contemporary art has gone stagnant, become merely decorative, and lost its way in rampant commercialism and sensationalism, the Occupy Movement has created a veritable Renaissance of what we can justly call “Art of the People.” It is almost a joke that right now, major museums and art institutions are scrambling to get into their collections any posters, photographs, and artifacts created by ordinary people, people with passion for a cause, who were not trying to be correct, or cow-tow to the dictates of “what art should look like.” They just jumped in, painted signs, painted walls, painted on the streets, painted themselves, painted trash cans, painted banners… and sent their creations out worldwide on the internet, for all to see. They did, and are doing all this with ferocious abandon, and their medium IS their message.

    We need to pay attention to what is being said. Close, close attention.

    Art is language about culture.

    It is time for art to reclaim its sacred, shamanic, transformational, magic roots. It is time for irreverence, and truth telling, and populist uprising to carry the message of change
    and social reform forward into more sustainable institutions and economics. And it is our grass roots artists, who care nothing about fame or fortune, who are simply doing art because art needs to be done. It is this vast collective of artists who are leading the way, with their thousands of messages that do not aspire to anything except social justice and genuine opportunity for all peoples on the earth.

    The Occupy Art Movement is underway. Bring it on!

    (Found art graffiti news photo, modified in APS by Alex. From a collection of posters and articles documenting the art of the OCCUPY! Movement
    at )
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