Throughout history, artists have been allied with political resistance, giving voice to the oppressed, fighting for humanity at the risk of their own comfort and safety. Their work has thrown light on obstacles to justice and imagined a way forward through daunting circumstances. It has borne beauty amid bleakness, charging people with hope and bravery.
In the aftermath of a presidential election that threatens great suffering and destruction in our country, artists and the communities who surround them once again have a crucial role to play in defending vulnerable people, collaborating with activists and forging connections in places where our social fabric has frayed—even in the face of looming challenges to free speech. In the 10 days since the election, I’ve drawn great inspiration from the growing battery of artists already speaking truth to power, carving clarity from the fog of fear and despair.
City Arts has the honor and privilege not only to cover and publish the diverse voices and exquisite labors of our arts community, but also to reflect the ethos, ideologies and values of our city. In this moment, we are redoubling our commitment to this work and to you, with an absolute determination to leverage our independent platform toward equity and human rights. We fight alongside you.
In this issue we spotlight water protectors at Standing Rock, documentary filmmakers decrying genderqueer discrimination in the prison system and a pop-up gallery where donations to nonprofits become vouchers for buying art. We also celebrate the 2016 Artists of the Year, all of whom are brilliant creators and indefatigable emissaries of social causes. They have been beacons in this brutal year.
In keeping with a tradition we started last December, this issue also contains a special section in place of a bunch of holiday ballyhoo: a collection of art and writing created around a central theme, in keeping with the spirit of the season. This year, that theme is GIVE. Each contributor has interpreted the theme in his or her own way, creating a compelling pastiche of empathy, tenderness and generosity. May we all give of ourselves now and into the new year.
See you out there,
Editor in Chief