Wednesday, May 5, 2010

SPARC returns from El Salvador

Well the times, they are changing. Twenty years ago artists worldwide lifted their paintbrushes in protest of human rights abuses in El Salvador. Artists Against US Intervention in Central America (1984) produced exhibitions, posters and events. Author, PAD/D founder and critic Lucy Lippard was a co-founder of this activism based arts group.

The late 70’s and early 80’s were exciting days for the arts and social change movement, there was a buzz of activity as a new generation of community arts activists came on the scene. The election of Reagan in 1980 marked a sudden change for artists. The elimination of CETA resulted in thousands of arts organizations disappearing. The clowns, murals, celebrations and theater arts that had animated the rural and urban communities of our childhood suddenly disappeared. At the same time US policy in Central America shifted to become much more militaristic, with US military advisers being sent to places like El Salvador.

Now, 26 years later President of El Salvador is asking for forgiveness for complicity in the killing of Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero. Mural artist and teacher Judy Baca recently returned from El Salvador after completing a series of murals at the invitation of the US Embassy and the mayor of San Salvador, the tiny nation's capital city. The murals are part of a tourism initiative, but also represent a distinct change in the use of the arts as a tool of US foreign policy.

It's an exciting change, and the murals created are absolutely beautiful, well worth a visit to beautiful El Salvador.

No comments: