Art and politics seem to go together. Some of the most indelible images related to American politics involve some form of artistry. Even in recent years, Tina Fey’s comedic impressions of Sarah Palin and the Hope campaign poster from Barack Obama’s first presidential run provide lasting memories that not only entertain but also call to mind how art and politics influence one another.
In late 2014 Austin underwent a significant political change. Voters decided the city council’s membership would change from all seats being elected at-large to each seat representing a geographical district of the city. The total number of council members expanded, and only one council member from the old guard won re-election.
To commemorate this political shift, Drawing Lines, a public-private partnership between the City of Austin Economic Development Department Cultural Arts Division and GO collaborative in partnership with Public City and Fisterra Studio, was born. Through the work of 10 local artists, the project examines the interplay between contemporary culture and transformation of place. It shows how artistic processes can blend with the conversations around political restructuring.
“The exhibition allows us to experience at once the diversity of communities explored by the artists and reminds us that collectively the nuances of place make the city what it is today,” project curator Meredith Powell told Austin.com. “Housed in an historic building on Congress Avenue, the location intentionally brings the exhibition to one of Austin’s most defining places where, for generations, culture, community and civic life have intersected to shape the city.”
While the typical picture of an artist is one person toiling away in solitude, the art in Drawing Lines was created in collaboration with residents in each city council district. Artists spent a one-year residency in their districts.
“Being selected to work in District 3 was not only one of the most daunting and intimidating projects I’ve been a part of as an artist but it was also by far the most inspiring and rewarding,” Grammy Award-winning musician and visual artist Adrian Quesada said. “I’ve raised a family in the district and have seen so much change in that time that I chose to engage with generations past, present and future to paint a picture of the complexity and beauty of it all.”
The works of art will be on display in downtown Austin at the McKean-Eilers Building from April 1 to April 10 at a showing called, “Drawing Lines: Explorations of Place.” Drop by between noon and 5 p.m. one of the days. The historic building is located at 323 Congress Avenue.
Featured photo: Flickr user Joey Parsons, creative commons licensed. Story photo: Courtesy, Drawing Lines.