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Leroy Johnson: What It Means to Be A Political Artist Today
Episode 9520th October 2020 • Not Real Art • Crewest Studio
00:00:00 01:15:34

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In our increasingly polarized society and as the indivisibility we have been promised becomes further from our reality, what role do artists play in interrogating where we are now? The Indivisible 2020 exhibition explores what it means to be indivisible and divided in today’s United States, and Not Real Art is proud to be a media partner. The next few shows will be interviews with participating artists, and today’s guest, Leroy Johnson is a true political artist in every sense of the word. In this episode, Karen Fiorito, artist and curator of Indivisible 2020 joins Sourdough to talk with Leroy. We get to know Leroy, where he shares his understanding of being indivisible and how we have drifted from it. He does not simply believe that unity is about humans, but all earthlings and the exploitative, extractive nature of capitalism has completely shattered our respect for living beings. We also discuss the importance of artists giving their voices to causes rather than creating for entertainment’s sake. As a former Black Panther and Civil Rights activist, Leroy has seen how art can aid social movements, and he shares the disappointment at the lack of civic foundation of a lot of today's art. Despite highlighting some of these shortcomings, Leroy’s message is still one of hope and empowerment as he believes art is the ultimate medium to communicate the truth that capitalism and the powers that be seek to hide. Be sure to tune in today!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • The motivation for curating Indivisible 2020, a political art exhibition.
  • Some of the artists participating in the show and upcoming guests on the podcast.
  • Leroy’s understanding of indivisibility and how he feels artists have been deceived.
  • Our human-centric view that is fueled by capitalism.
  • Leroy’s disappointment in some artists who hold back from speaking out.
  • The permanence of art and how we have lost the cultural value of creative work.
  • The choice that artists have to make to truly speak out against the system.
  • How Karen and Leroy met, over 20 years ago.
  • What excited Karen, as the curator, about including Leroy in the Indivisible show.
  • Leroy’s supportive family and growing up in an extremely diverse neighborhood.
  • The superficiality of art currently and the lack of historical memory.
  • Why artists are not entertainers and should not create only to entertain.
  • Why, no matter how bad things get in America, Leroy would never leave.
  • Leroy’s take on artist activism in the 60s compared to now.
  • The loss of community among artists and the prevalence of individualistic thinking.
  • Artists are exploited at every level, from buying materials to the end product.
  • Leroy’s take on meditation and the role it plays in his life.
  • Why the notion of the common good is becoming increasingly difficult to get behind.

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