by Zy Gonzales . October 18th, 2012
In a world where poverty, inequality and discrimination are rampant, a lot of people tend to turn a blind eye on issues that do not directly affect them. Maybe its indifference or maybe it’s just the fact that people tend to get used to the condition and they are now considering it as a norm.
But of course, this shouldn’t be the case. As human beings we should be aware of the various problems and difficulties that people around us are experiencing so that we may be able to help them and put a stop to those misfortunes. However, a lot of people tend to stay quiet because they think that they do not have that big of a voice for them to be heard. Well this isn’t actually true. Take for example the number of underground and indie artists featured in Voice of Art.
Voice of Art (VOA) is a documentary series that follows artists who exercise their right to voice out their opinions about current issues facing ordinary people in their communities. The series is written by ZS Grant and John Carr and features various street artists who use their artwork as a medium to express their views on different issues that deal with different political and social topics.
The You the Designer team was very fortunate to be given the privilege to ask the series’ creators ZS Grant and John Carr some questions about the documentary and here are their answers.
YTD: How and when did VOA start?
ZS Grant: The idea for Voice of Art came about when the Occupy movement was starting to get heavily criticized by the mainstream media for being unorganized. I took part in a Skype conference with the street art group Cyrcle and other activists/filmmakers within NY’s Occupy Wall St. We started discussing various concepts for translating the original Occupy message through engaging, thought-provoking documentaries with high quality production value. After that meeting, my friend Coleen Haynes, the Executive Producer at Black Dog Films, suggested I pitch a show to YouTube.
The concept was to document artists who are using their art as a voice to create public awareness about important political and social issues. I wanted to help them take their art and their message to a larger audience. I also wanted to get to know about their passions that drive them to risk their freedom communicating their art in public spaces.
I pitched the show to the Pharrell Williams newly created YouTube channel “I am Other.” Soon afterwards, I was introduced to John Carr. John had been a part of L.A.’s street art community for a decade and is the founding artist and curator for LA vs War & Yo! Peace (pro peace and anti war art exhibitions). Together we began filming our first episode, Street Artists vs Illegal Billboards with Cyrcle in March 2012.
YTD: What is the project’s goal in sharing these videos?
Grant/Carr: VOA is intended to be a catalyst to inspire individuals to become educated on political and social issues beyond what the headlines read – and to think critically about the truth behind the agenda of corporate News.
We want these videos to live on and continue to educate. Art has documented and communicated social issues from the beginning of time. Nowadays, corporations have taken over our roads, skies and airways to advertise their self-serving profit agendas. Street Art is one of the only ways in which individuals and their non-corporate ideas can be seen and heard in public space.
We want people to be inspired to take action whether that means voting on an issue, donating to a cause or putting their own art up in the streets.
YTD: How do you select which artist to feature? (Does the kind of issue that the artist support matter?)
Grant/Carr: We have selected the artists that we have featured in our episodes in 2 ways:
1. We have featured prolific artists like GATS, Gan Golan, and Favianna Rodriguez who have had art actions planned and we followed along and film their process.
2. We consider the subject matter or issue we want to cover for an episode, and then find artists working around those concepts. This has led us to people like Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), and to an amazing group of street artists for the episode we are currently shooting on California’s Yes on Prop 37 campaign, which advocates the mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods.
YTD: What message do you want to impart on their audience?
Grant/Carr: Wake Up! Street artists have courage and are not dominated by their fears. They risk their freedom to remind you that they are there and the streets belong to the people. Street art communicates directly to communities and their messages live on through photography and social media like Instagram, blogs, Twitter and Facebook.
The second message is to be aware of that there is more going on in the world than what the news and the government tells us. It is all our responsibility as artists and citizens to learn and to participate in where our country and our lives are headed. Don’t let someone else do your thinking for you. Ignorance is only bliss until it becomes oppression.
It’s really quite amazing how ordinary people can get noticed when they do amazing things. The people that were featured and behind this amazing documentary series show that even the smallest of voices can be amplified given the right tools and the right mind set. If you’re interested in knowing more about VOA, you can check them out on Facebook and Twitter or better yet, watch episodes of the documentary through I Am Other’s YouTube Channel.
So there you have it guys. What can you say about Voice of Art? Tell us by leaving a comment below. You can also add us up on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus or subscribe to our blog using this link.
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