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Art, Music, & Pop Culture

The role of artists in society has always been important. Artists raise awareness about social issues and are often the register of the times. They can reinforce the status quo or they can serve as a catalyst for change. Popular Culture often illuminates where we are all are as a people and a species. We invite critical essays and thinking on art of all types today in the US and abroad.

For Hong Kong Artists, the Internet Is Freedom’s Last Frontier

By Kelly Go

In 2014, the city-state of Hong Kong was swept up in the Umbrella Revolution.  Its leaders were youth, its medium the internet, and the results were hundreds of thousands of bodies on the street voicing strong political demands including the call for universal suffrage. In Hong Kong, political opinions are commonly discussed online and like many international movements – from Occupy to the Arab Spring to Ukraine’s Orange Revolution — the Internet served as a powerful platform to circulate political opinions and mobilize grassroots movements.

The 2014 revolution also marked the emergence of widespread political “derivative work,” more widely known in North America as ‘memes.’ Rather than reproducing the original, derivative work is “creative art that modifies, appropriates, and/or adapts an earlier work….to parody and comment visually on an event or to caricature a public political figure.” Once created, derivative work is uploaded on social-media platforms like Facebook and Instagram and shared widely. Derivative work is powerful because it is activism framed through images of popular culture, often making previously boring political issues come alive on social media. (more…)

One Week of Poems on Love and Terror

By adrienne maree brown In this moment, when the future is so uncertain, Praxis Center turns to poetic offerings by adrienne maree brown. As she wrote on her blog, “i still believe it is the core work of our species – to … Continue reading

Ligatures for Black Bodies

By Denise Miller Denise Miller’s stunning artwork is featured on the home page of Praxis Center’s website. Here, she shares three poems from her forthcoming book, Ligatures for Black Bodies, with Rattle Press in November. For Denise, poetry tells the … Continue reading

A Storied Neighborhood, Wrapped in Contradiction

By Bill Ayers and Claire van den Heever Writer, educator, activist and long-time resident of Chicago’s Hyde Park community, Bill Ayers recently recorded a one-hour audio walking tour of his neighborhood for the mobile application VoiceMap. “I had a lot … Continue reading

The Healing Powers of American Roots Music

By Stephanie Shonekan, Art, Music, and Pop Culture Contributing Editor During this year’s Grammy Awards Stevie Wonder reminded viewers to appreciate the “healing powers” of music. This lovely sentiment, as well as the well-loved adage that “music is a universal … Continue reading

Lioness of Lisabi: A Black Girl Power Story

by Stephanie Shonekan, Art, Music, and Pop Culture, Contributing Editor Reverberations of the assertion that Black Lives Matter have been heard and felt across the nation, on our street corners and in our communities, on college campuses, and in media … Continue reading

Sarah: Caretaker of the People’s Camera

By Mariame Kaba Editor’s note: Praxis Center is thrilled to feature the photographs of Sarah Jane Rhee on our home page for the month of February. If you are at a protest or action in Chicago, you can’t miss her. … Continue reading

Why Selma Matters: A Mother’s Perspective

By Stephanie Shonekan, Art, Music, and Pop Culture On MLK day, I took our three teenage children to watch Selma. I worried about the film’s effect on them because I knew it would provide another heavy layer of heart-wrenching historical … Continue reading