I recently represented the gallery I curate (galleryonthemain.com) at the Our Common Ground Artwalk in Greenville, IL. Greenville is a “college town” and in most of my friend’s and colleague’s minds these college students represent a generation of apathy and laziness; partying and self-indulgent kids who have no drive. Here’s why I don’t think this is completely true:
As many of you know, I am in the process of developing and showing my “Freedom” series. It is a series of protest pieces that have a social justice inspiration. In this kind of social justice meets my unique blend of Christianity, I am in a type of artistic/spiritual renaissance of my own.
At the show I was intrigued by the way different people responded to the work being displayed, but I was especially struck by the response of the many college students who stopped to view the “Freedom” work. They were interested in the images, but they were excited by the message and meaning behind the work.
It seemed to me that as we spoke there was an intensity that boiled right under the surface and there were several that were passionate about the idea of engaging the social issues and righting the injustices. I met several musicians from local bands, like Ryan Besse of North To Alaska, who are involved with social movements like The Red Thread Movement.
A young lady named Carrie spoke to me about her passion for art and social justice. She has started a local Greenville College Chapter of LiNK, a non-profit organization that is focused on the humanitarian crisis in North Korea. She has BIG plans and is focusing her efforts on making an impact,
That evening I spoke with a friend about these students and of course we ended up talking about the hippie activism of the 60’s. He made a great observation. Fifty years ago a generation of passionate young people and students began to rise up and challenge the status quo, from the church to the government and everything in between. The church and concerned citizens did a great job of shutting them down. Maybe they couldn’t see the potential for great change that these students had, or maybe they could and were afraid. Of course there were negatives, drugs and sexuality, but there were so many potentials that got lost in the indiscriminate generalized attacks.
They are back. They aren’t bead wearing, bearded hippies, but they are still radical and passionate. The greatest difference is that now they are empowered through social media and that, hopefully, the church isn’t afraid of them.