Civil engagement project asks “What is Democracy?”

Civil engagement project asks “What is Democracy?”

The ArtsWeek project from Indiana University Bloomington “Writing on the Wall” is at IU East now through Friday, October 24. The project theme is Politics in the Arts and asks viewers “What is Democracy?” and “What does Democracy Look Like?” The project was initiated by Joe LaMantia, a Bloomington artist and art educator who first conceived of the graffiti project as part of IU’s Moveable Feast of the Arts for 2008-2009.

The project is one of many Celebrate IU events on campus this month. Celebrate IU began in 2007 as part of the inauguration of President Michael McRobbie but has grown to become a month-long celebration of IU accomplishments and contributions at all of its campuses.

Writing on the wall
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LaMantia is taking the project to all IU campuses this year. IU East will have the project today through Friday, October 17. The project is located in the Whitewater Hall lobby. The public is invited to write or draw their response to the questions.

“I’m just amazed at the responses each campus has had in answering the questions,” LaMantia said. He said the civil engagement project is meant as a dialogue to promote continual thinking and response.

New panels are brought to each location to keep the conversation flowing. The IU East panels will remain on the campus. Response range from a call to action to questions, slogans and drawings.
TJ Rivard, dean for the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, said this is a particularly important project within this election cycle.

“It not only reminds us of the democratic process, but it also makes us stop and think about why we cherish democracy or why we don’t. Either way, “Writing On the Wall” allows us to participate,” Rivard said. “Articulating these thoughts publicly deepens and broadens our connection to American culture through the complexity and the plurality of our viewpoints about freedom. The wall stands as a defense of that diversity.”

“Writing on the Wall” also celebrates graffiti as art and as a legitimate and powerful means of political expression. Five Bloomington artists were commissioned to create their own graffiti-inspired panels on the theme of democracy when the project began.

For more information, contact Ed Thornburg, IU East art curator, at (765) 973-8605.

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