“When (the) occupy (movement) started, the general criticism of it was that it didn’t have any direction. It didn’t have people who actually knew what they were talking about,” said UTSA senior, Daniela Riojas. Riojas saw a problem with the movement from the start, and as an active member in San Antonio’s developing art and music scene, she felt that she had something new to offer the occupy movement.
“That was like the main thing for me,” Riojas stated. “How can we do this with art?”
Along with other artists, Riojas founded Arts United San Antonio in late October last year in direct response to Occupy. As stated in their mission statement, “The Arts United is a grassroots organization in San Antonio that functions in support of the current social, cultural, political and economic revolution happening in the United States.” But, unlike other occupy movements sprouting up around the United States, Arts United aims to be heard through various art forms-such as poetry, paintings and music-rather than as a muddled horde without a medium for their message.
Riojas believes that this method will be much more productive, claiming, “I think it’s reflective in our history. Even during the civil rights movement, a lot of (our ability) to unify people, bring people together… was based on art.”
It’s undeniable that the occupy movement brought crowds of protestors together, but instead of uniting them under one cause, it became a clash of hundreds of individuals trying to be heard over one another. Arts United offers a chance for everyone to have a turn in the spotlight and an opportunity to have their voice heard.
Riojas went on to describe how Arts United can unite participants and said, “There were so many different political affiliations in one spot that everybody was going off in their own direction and not moving in one direction, whereas music and art can do that job. (Art) can create an ideology and then everybody can relate to it in some way.” Riojas continued, “I guess it breaks down a lot of the borders that politics create.”
Arts United encourages anyone interested in getting involved in the occupy movement here in San Antonio to submit to their literary magazine, which is currently under construction. To submit to the magazine, artists may create any form of art as long as it falls under one of Arts United’s two prompts.
The first prompt would be any art form (painting, singing, sculpting, filming, writing, etc.) that critiques the current political and social environment, while making a claim of any sort on an issue of the artist’s choosing.
The second prompt is an extension of the first. Art submissions falling under the second prompt must present progress, a solution or the utopian aftermath.
“(The second prompt is about) getting more into the romantic spirit of ‘What if life was like this?’ I think that once we do that then we can start feeling out a way to get there and create that reality,” Riojas said. “Either you present a problem or you present a solution. We’re getting more problems, of course, so you know, we’re asking for more solutions.”
The Arts United Literary Journal will be a digital journal that can be distributed virally to spread the artists’ voices as widely as possible. The Literary Journal is currently in the making and looking for submissions. Details about how to submit can be found at the San Antonio Arts United Facebook page or www.artsunitedsanantonio.com. If you have any further questions, you may email Daniela Riojas at [email protected]