The Week that Was…

Election Week 2020

For many of us, this past week was a string of never-ending days spent at the edge of our seats, holding our breath and hoping for the best, while mentally preparing ourselves for the worst, wondering about when and how it was going to end. It took several days, but eventually it did end, and thankfully, on a hopeful note…hopeful, because there’s yet a long way to go until we can actually turn the page and be able to leave the past four years behind, perhaps only to occasionally glance at them in the rear view mirror to remind ourselves of the lessons learned from the experience.

Here are two images from this Election Week 2020: ESB in blue, on the night after Election Day, and ESB in red white and blue on the night of Nov 7, to celebrate President Elect Joe Biden and Vice President Elect Kamala Harris. And the entire world celebrated with us. Oh, what a feeling! (also, more images on my IG page @alina.oswald )

And yet, this past weekend offered the majority of us a reason to believe in the possibility of a better future, to rejoice, rejoin and enjoy life yet again, if only for the weekend. Like many others, I allowed myself a moment to exhale, to take in a breath of the fresh air that suddenly surrounded us, to, once again, believe that hope was not all gone. “Gotta give them hope,” Harvey Milk once said. And this election made the idea of hope possible, yet again. Hence, in Manhattan’s Times Square, Brooklyn, in NYC Metro area and across the country people were out, cheering and celebrating while wearing masks, literally dancing in the streets in Philadelphia, Atlanta, and other places.

Empire State Building displays its blue lights and the moon rises over Midtown Manhattan the night after Election Day 2020. ©Alina Oswald.

With everything that’s been happening in the past four years, in the past week and weekend, a question came to mind, a question that I’ve been asked quite often:

As creatives, do we, should we create and share work that expresses our views when it comes to politics, social issues, human rights, and so on? Is it (when is it) safe to do so?

From my own experience, as well as from what other creatives, artists and activists have shared with me, the answer is “it depends.” Hence, in order to be able to do it right, if at all, a few things need to be taken into consideration:

Election Week 2020 in the USA. NYC displays its Red, White and Blue lights on Nov 7, celebrating President Elect Joe Biden and Vice President Elect Kamala Harris. ©Alina Oswald.

Is it safe to express yourself and your views through your creative work? Do you live in a safe environment that allows you to do so? (or are you willing to take the risk?) The answer(s) might not always be “yes.” [NOTE: don’t take the freedom to express yourself, your thoughts, for granted; yesterday, November 9, was the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall (November 9, 1989; the fall of the Wall led to the revolutions of 1989 in Eastern Europe); those living…let’s call it on the wrong side of the Wall did not have the freedom to express themselves, hence, it’s not something to take for granted]

Election Week 2020 in the USA. NYC displays its Red, White and Blue lights on Nov 7, celebrating President Elect Joe Biden and Vice President Elect Kamala Harris. ©Alina Oswald.
Election Week 2020 in the USA. NYC displays its Red, White and Blue lights on Nov 7, celebrating President Elect Joe Biden and Vice President Elect Kamala Harris. ©Alina Oswald.

Also worth considering is the type of artwork that you create, the purpose of creating that work. Some individuals make it their life’s purpose to create protest art, to use their artwork as a call to action or as a vehicle through which to send a message, make a point, support a cause, and so on. Hence, more often than not, their work does take on political views, social issues, and so on.

Bottom line is, I think, that more often than not creatives are expected to express themselves, their views (and with that others’ (our) views) through their work.

Also, oftentimes creative work, art, captures, documents our life’s story (the good and the bad, the happy moments and the devastating ones) and safeguards it for those who come after us. After all, art is what we leave behind, what future generations will look at when learning about us and our time here on this planet. So, make it count!

Hope this finds you well and, as always, thanks for stopping by!

Alina Oswald

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