Social Justice on Display: Protest Art at the Democratic Convention

Gun violence, police abuse, and feminism loom large in pop-up art exhibit at DNC



The threats of gun violence, police abuse, and a rollback of reproductive-liberty loomed at Rock the Vote's "pop-up art exhibition" during the Democratic National Convention (DNC). The exhibit, "Truth to Power," featured work from Shephard Fairey and dozens of other artists from a 9,000 square-foot space on the edge of downtown Philadelphia. Folks like Danny Glover, Rosie Perez, Sen. Cory Booker and Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes dropped by for  panels, which included sessions on robots, universal basic income, and the militarization of police. 

I liked the exhibit, even if I didn't agree the messages explicit in some of the works. Some pieces were silly, but some were powerful. None were even slightly critical of Hillary or Bill Clinton, however, nor of the Democratic party—something I didn't think about until I passed a guerrilla art exhibit/protest on the sidewalk near City Hall. It featured paper-mache drones and pictures of children killed by U.S. drone strikes, along with a sign that said "Hillary knows drones kill children, she's all for it." I passed the exhibit on the way to the official DNC "Women's Caucus," where Clinton's record as a champion of children's rights and well-being was touted once again. 


Rock the Vote says the Truth to Power campaign was designed "to engage and mobilize young people in the 2016 election." The works featured at the pop-up exhibition—which was partnered with criminal-justice reform groups like #Cut50, reproductive-health groups like Planned Parenthood and NARAL, and tech startups with names like "Ideapod" and "Wikiburg"— reflected themes that Democrats have hit hard on this week at their convention: gun violence and the need for gun-control regulations; violence at the hands of police; violence against women; the importance of safeguarding reproductive rights; criminal justice reform; women's progress; and how race intersects with all of these things. Check out some of the Truth to Power pieces and some of the Philly street art below. 

NEXT: Democrats Seem to Want to Forget Obama's Role in Our Surveillance State

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  1. 1 in S women will be raped? These statistics get more alarming every 5econd.

    1. I 5ee what you did there.

    2. exactly how I read it.

      1. I know right? I guess that’s what we get for not knowing cursive anymore.

        1. I know the deep dish and circumcision debates have the most infamy around here, but the cursive fights deserve more recognition.

      2. I read it as a pro-suicide argument.

    3. The people still touting this thoroughly-discredited statistic – are they stupid? Dishonest? Both?

      1. Has this been discredited? Seems high, but it’s supposed to be over a lifetime, so perhaps a bit more plausible than the 1 in 4 during college stat.

        I have no idea on way or the other. Wouldn’t it be nice if more people were interested in honestly trying to find the truth?

        1. Do you really think1 in 5 is remotely plausible?

          1. Mind, they didn’t specify that that only applied in the United States, so when you consider the state of sexual mores in Africa, India, and the Middle East…I’ll admit I don’t know one way or the other, but I also wouldn’t dismiss it out of hand.

          2. Globally? Sure.

            In the US? Maybe, so long as you’re not just thinking of violent rapes in a dark alley.

          3. I think it depends on what one’s definition of ‘rape’ is, which might, sadly, be pretty fuzzy among the fuzzy minds peddling the stat to begin with. Too lazy to look it up, I’ll just let some cynicism do its job.

          4. I really don’t know. I learn things about the world and people that surprise me all the time.

          5. “Do you really think1 in 5 is remotely plausible?”

            Uh, no.
            US population: ~ 300 Million
            Female population: ~ 150 Million
            Average Lifespan: ~ 75 years
            Do the math. One in five would mean 400,000 rapes per year.
            Actual rate: ~ 175,000 rapes and sexual assaults
            Even if all of those are actual rapes, then it’s not one in five, but one in more than ten. If only half are rapes, then it’s one in twenty five. Except some of those rapes are of men, not women. One in thirty? Less?
            That’s just a quick back of the envelope calculation. So is one in five plausible? No. Not even close.

        2. Rape statistics are widely different over many studies. To say it has been discredited is no more illegitimate that asserting that it has been proven.

      2. See, they’ve redefined “rape” to include anything the woman finds distasteful, down to being whistled at. And, so far, they’ve actually been naking some headway in the parts of society where they congregate. And they automatically believe any woman who claims she was raped by any man, even if there is solid evidence that he was on the other side of the world when the woman claims it happened.

        And, so far, actual rape victems are being slow to pick up on how much this trivializes actual forcible rape.

  2. The rape statistic is very alarming, maybe we should ban mattresses

  3. Okay, I like the “Magic Pussy Power” one… but it seems like anywhere else, it would be “problematic”.

  4. Funny how the 1 in 5 statistic quickly becomes raped instead of sexually assaulted. Shows the bullshit in those studies and their supporters.

    1. Pretty sure 1 in 5 proggy statistic might be correct; meaning 80% of all proggy statistics are bullshit.

      1. This makes me sad. Once the statistic is made it never goes away. No matter how many times its discredited there is always someone new discovering it and taking it as the holy grail of truth (70 cents on the dollar actually has its own holiday for christ’s sake). Even wildly obviously false statistics are finding people that will believe them (20% of all women are raped in America. I know more than five women. It should be obvious that statistic can’t be true).

        1. I know more than five women.

          Just because you didn’t rape them doesn’t mean nobody did.

    2. I can tell if ^ this one needs mental re-purposing or just needs to be disappeared.

  5. I think we should make more effort to start salacious rumors about dead celebrities.

    I’m going to post, “In 1973, Charles Kuralt was treated for a concussion after a night of rough sex with Bob Crane.” on several sites today, and see what happens.

    1. Please report your findings in the PM Links.

      1. Smut for the Smut God, Cocks for the Throne of Slaanesh!

      2. At the rate they’re posting articles, the PM thread won’t arrive until Saturday morning.

  6. Reproductive Liberty, eh? I had no idea men and women were being kept from having children. This is an atrocity for which I will not stand.

    1. “Reproductive Liberty” means forcing other people to pay for your abortions and contraceptives. Because liberty. And fairness.

      1. And, somehow, they never get around to dealing with cultures like Islam and The PRC where women really DON’T have control over reproduction.

  7. These artists are certainly challenging my bourgeois assumptions, especially my assumption that art should be interesting.

    1. No, it’s got to be preachy and teachy first and foremost.

  8. Propaganda Art, truly the highest and most wonderful kind of art. And useful too. After art like this, surely every “problem” addressed will be solved forevermore.

    1. It’s raising awareness, dammit! What more could you possibly ask someone to do?

      1. Preaching to the converted is the most dangerous and courageous form of preaching.

        1. Yeah. You could easily get patted on the back so much you get a slipped disk.

      2. What more could you possibly ask someone to do?

        Something that actually makes a difference?

        1. Yeah, right. Nice try, old man. Raising awareness is the most important and justicey goal a person could aspire to.

        2. That’s what politicians are for. You raise awareness enough, and then government fixes the problem. Duh.

      3. Something useful? ANYTHING useful?

    2. Needs more heavy handed allegory.

      1. Why whisper eloquently when you can bellow incoherently?

        1. The creed of internet commenters everywhere.

          1. WHAT YOU MEANS BY THAT?!?

    3. I got stuck behind one of those abortion is bad buses the other day on the way home.

      It’s hard to be pro-life when you are angry about all of the asshole drivers around you.

      1. I am also against buses having abortions.

        1. What about transwomen having access to abortions to terminate the pregnancies they can’t have in the first place? Because that’s apparently a thing now…..


          1. WTF is wrong with these people.

            1. Longterm exposure to the Liberal/Progressive worldview, which has had only occasional contact with reality for some decades.

  9. I like the “Truth to Power” piece; the truth of money speaks. But I doubt the dumbasses will listen.

  10. For fun I like to go to the dollar store and ask other customers how much random products cost. Next time I’m just going to one of these. “Excuse me. I just don’t get what this piece is trying to say.”

  11. I liked the exhibit, even if I didn’t agree [with] the messages explicit in some of the works. Some pieces were silly, but some were powerful.

    Of course we will avoid actually saying which were silly, and which were powerful, or what messages were objectionable. Because, well…. you know. “bravery”

    1. As if that matters. It’s not there isn’t a pack of raving douchebags that will jump all over “reason” for liking something that is unclean.

      1. As if that matters.

        most people read Reason for a “libertarian POV”. This presumes writers have one.

        1. Most people have already decided that reason most certainly isn’t libertarian. reason does everything it can to get invited to cocktail parties with the cool kids. reason is nothing but a cesspool of washed up proggie SJWs.

          At least, that’s what I understand from the comments.

          1. are you suggesting there was some very potent, sharp libertarian perspective being shared in the above post that we’ve all somehow overlooked?

            I’m not sure that ‘mockingly agreeing’ with the stock-criticism does anything to undermine it. smug sarcasm isn’t particularly effective unless you’ve already made some coherent point.

          2. Reason as an entity? No. Some of the individual writers at Reason? Sure. Weigel actually did exist, you know, and his participation in JournoList coincided with his tenure at Reason. Between the obvious subtext in much of her work at Reason and a perusal of her work prior to joining Reason, it’s not a huge leap to suspect that her commitment to libertarianism is somewhat casual.

            1. it’s not a huge leap to suspect that her commitment to libertarianism is somewhat casual.

              Which isn’t even what i was complaining about.

              it was the easy-out of saying, “Some stuff was silly, some was powerful” – which suggests she actually has an opinion about the stuff…

              ….but then never actually saying which was which.

              Its wasn’t that she might hold an opinion which fails to coincide with the readership (and so what if she did? many writers – a la sheldon – routinely do); its that she implied there were specific items worth praise or criticism… but then never actually shared what those things were.

              as sparky might have inadvertently pointed out – people (not just the usual-suspect commentariat, but anyone who comes along) are going to shit on your opinion no matter what. that’s what happens when you have an opinion.

              its the unwillingness to take that risk which is contemptible. its boring.

              1. Fair enough.

                In any case, virtually every one of the contributors are going to have the commentariat bitching from time to time (well, except Stossel because he’s awesome), but in most cases with people like KMW and Welch and Walker it’s over debates within libertarian thought strains. With others like Robbie and ENB and our much-missed Weigel, there was, as you pointed out, nothing of import in regards to liberty whatsoever to the piece. Does that make her Amanda Marcotte? Of course not, but it doesn’t exactly bolster her bona fides either. If you look at her output as a whole, she vacillates between liberty and, at the least, sympathy for the social justice crowd.

                1. Gilmore’s own blog really takes these chances and hits these commies where they hurt.

  12. Meh, communist realism is still vastly superior, in terms of both propaganda, and art.

    I mean, look at this shit, it’s beautiful and positively evil at the same time.

    1. Is that first painting of the people fleeing Venezuela?

      1. That is so incredibly awesome.

        it took a minutes to digest all the detail. the alligator with the nuclear ‘button’ feels like a non-sequitur, but i suspect it actually references something specific. Also = the AA12? the artist clearly knows their weaponry

      2. Clearly Bill learned a thing or two from the airport scene in Spinal Tap.

  13. “reflected themes that Democrats have hit hard on this week at their convention: gun violence and the need for gun-control regulations; violence at the hands of police; violence against women; the importance of safeguarding reproductive rights; criminal justice reform; women’s progress; and how race intersects with all of these things.”

    Thanks, Liz, I’ve been dying for some propaganda about intersectionality. I thought Soave was going to be the one to do it, but I guess I underestimated you.

    1. Please tell me you’re not insinuating that she is endorsing this. Because that would be literally retarded.

      1. Well, as we all know, the goals of social justice are noble, so what’s the problem?

  14. Truth to Power

    Jeez, the 20th century called – it wants its meaningless catch-phrase back.

    1. But it sounds so much better than “long discredited lies to nitwits”.

    2. I also like that speaking “truth to power” apparently means jumping on and blindly supporting planks in the party platform.

  15. Reactions to the works –

    “Debt” – I suppose i’d ask the artist, “OK?….and what GDP will that generation generate with those college degrees?” I guess the idea of the debt/cash-flow ratio would be a new thing for them.

    my impression of all the other works is…. the ones that genuinely show some artistic talent/imagination (like the paintings, or the shirt/gun sculpture)? are generally worsened by their need to try and project some hamhanded political statements. most of these ideas were cliches in the 1960s-1970s. a la the Pussy magic-8-ball, or the ovaries w/ boxing gloves. they’d be more effective if they were *mocking* hackneyed political-art tropes.

  16. It’s so horrible: the way the government helps students borrow money.

    1. an even harder grim-giggle.

      they write about their ‘debt’ in big red letters like its an accounting of the mass-graves in the killing fields. THE HORROR. who is this monster that keeps giving them free money?!?

      1. On this one I have a tiny smidgen of sympathy. Society told them they needed a degree to do anything. That poor jerk who got a Masters degree in Puppetry didn’t think to hitchhike to LA and get a job fetching coffee at Jim Henson Studios because everybody around him was telling him the right way to go was to get a worthless degree. Whole generations have been conned by the Higher Education Establishment. They ahve authentic grounds on which to be angry.

        Pity the’re pointing it in the wrong direction….

      2. A choice is made of free will just like the choice to kill,
        Decisions to lose control, my self-destructive rationale,
        A choice is made, made of free will
        Just like the choice, the choice to kill
        In the speed of a moment, life stands still,
        Now you’re standing in my killing fields

  17. I’m glad when people like these get worthless degrees. Less harm they can do.

    1. The thing is, the idea that Higher Education is Necessary (maybe that should be NECESSARY!) funnels people who might be perfectly happy and productive as, say, plumbers, into academia and spits them out with BA degrees and the idea that they are supposed to be working at a desk somewhere. They can’t get desk jobs, or if they can they don’t hold them, because they aren’t suited for desk work, and they end up cluttering up the service industry, being grumpy. That surly sonofabitch who never gets your coffee order right? BA in English Lit.

  18. It’s art like being hit in the face with a hammer is carpentry.

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