Activist art is subject of MSA lecture

SAXTONS RIVER — Activist art from Picasso's “Guernica” to Vermont's own Bread and Puppet Theater is the subject of a lecture Saturday, May 31, at 7:30 p.m. at Main Street Arts.

Local artist Allison Teague will offer definitions of activist art and share her knowledge of activist art through time and its role in expressing ideologies.

Teague is a third-generation artist who attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. She grew up in Norwich, the daughter of an abstract-expressionist painter, and works as an art instructor and as a correspondent for The Commons.

Following the tradition of “Guernica” - a protest of the 1937 Civil War bombing in northern Spain - and Bread and Puppet's protest of the Vietnam War in the 1970s, Teague says activist art continues today. She cites such local examples as the formation of the band Simba to protest nuclear energy at Vermont Yankee and the more recent efforts - including a dinner and a sign-hanging - by some in Bellows Falls in claiming the closed Vilas Bridge from New Hampshire.

There's even a Center for Artistic Activism (, she said, which bills itself as The School for Creative Activism - a participatory workshop “infusing community organizing and civic engagement with culture and creativity.”

Teague notes that “Vermont's own environmental guru, Bill McKibben, famously asked about the current lack of activist art, 'Where are the books? The poems? The plays? The goddamn operas? […] When people someday look back on our moment, the single most significant item will doubtless be the sudden spiking temperature. But they'll have a hell of a time figuring out what it meant to us.'”

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