Songs for a Revolution

Public health — like many areas of social justice — cannot be viewed as a cut and dry matter. It is not virus containment and vaccine distribution alone. It overlaps with and comprises facets of racial justice, housing security, notions of resource scarcity, and many other issues. The COVID-19 Pandemic only served to highlight and exacerbate these existing problems of social inequality.

Songs for a Revolution offers a selection of what local artists have voiced so far, a snapshot of what this year has meant for Angelenos, before and during the pandemic. While it is not a complete summation of the past year, it does offer a preview of the kind of public art that will likely continue to be made in the future. In a year exemplified by the phrase “the personal is political,” public art will only continue to give voice to more people and demand more answers. 

We encourage visitors to experience the artworks both in the order that they have been laid out on the page — top to bottom — as well as to consider them singly or grouped together in ways that resonate the most with their own journey over the past year.

Content Warning: Certain artworks included in this Curatorial Showcase feature or mention housing insecurity, racism, and violent news footage.


(above)  Morgan Lieberman, Untitled, 2020
Image courtesy of the artist.


Video courtesy of the artist.

Justin Warfield

The Nod, 2020-21
Film

“‘The Nod’… uses naturalistic comedy along with montage to comment on the Black experience in America today, where despite our numerous contributions to the culture and country, we still face systemic institutional, and interpersonal racism. Sometimes this undermines our daily lives, and sometimes it takes them. As a result of this shared experience, ‘the nod’, which we exchange, often in ‘white’ situations, is a quiet, layered, and profound acknowledgment of this aspect of our existence.” — JW


Video courtesy of the artist.

Terry Steele

Fade to Gray, 2020
Audio, video, performance

“‘Fade To Gray’ speaks directly to the times that we are living in. It seems, with each new day we are forced to face brand new challenges… Now, more than ever before we need to find a way to… let our differences Fade To Gray!” — TS


Brittney S. Price

I Voted (sticker), 2020
Illustration, graphic design

“My ‘I Voted’ sticker is a call to action. And it’s really a way of me showing visually how imperative, how life or death this vote can be.” —BSP

Image courtesy of the artist, Cody Broadway, NBCLX.


Video courtesy of the artist and Teatro Luna.

Anastasia Washington

Untitled, 2019
Video, Performance

Anastasia Washington talks about being biracial at the ‘Talking While Female’ storytelling show by Teatro Luna.


Video courtesy of the artist.

Alfred Gragg

CHAPTER 2 – THE HOOP BUS (excerpt from OCCUPY BLACK), 2020-21
Video, film

CONTENT WARNING:
Racism, Violent News Footage

OCCUPY BLACK chronicles the evolution of the Black protest movement from the 1992 LA uprising to the current Black Lives Matter movement.


Image courtesy of Quaz Amir

Afrika Bakenra

The Saddest Day, n.d.
Audio

CONTENT WARNING:
Housing Insecurity, Death/Dying

“I wrote this song after witnessing something that broke my heart. It was a very sad moment for me and the amount of pain I felt afterwards was overwhelming. But through pain can often come meaningful art, which is hopefully what this song is.”—AB


Video courtesy of Jay Julio.

Victoria Theodore

Human, 2017
Audio, performance

CONTENT WARNING:
Racism, Racially Motivated Violence

“My song ‘Human’ was composed in response to the proliferation of killings of unarmed Black men by police. It is a call for all people to see each other as HUMAN, and to engage in a higher level of compassion and kindness as citizens of both the United States and the world. We’re all human…”—VT


Jun Lee

Car Life 2020, 2020
Video, performance

CONTENT WARNING:
Housing Insecurity

“Inspired by the situations of the homeless in Los Angeles living in cars and dealing with the pandemic, this piece juxtaposes comic lightheartedness and raw emotion. Anxiety, frustration and self- soothing are major themes.”—JL

Video courtesy of the artist.


DFR

Gustatory, 2020
Video, poetry, performance

CONTENT WARNING:
Illness/Dying, Racism, Racially Motivated Violence

“This piece is a combination of poetry, original music and dance. It is the journey of a broken and anxious heart finding resilience and rebelling against hopelessness in a trying time. Amidst the passionate words and movements are moments of levity. As hope arises, color rises to meet it.”—DFR

Video courtesy of the artist.


Image courtesy of the artist.

Jay Poole

Civil, n.d.
Poetry

CONTENT WARNING:
Racism, Racially Motivated Violence

Civil is a poem I wrote dedicated to Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera for their work before and after the stonewall riots. The piece also plays tribute to the marches that have been happening since Selma, Alabama, on Bloody Sunday, March 7, 1965 to the most recent marches that happened all around the world due to police brutality.”—JP


Video courtesy of the artist.

A.J. Elgammal

UNDOCUMENTED, n.d.
Video

CONTENT WARNING:
Racism, Violent News Footage, Housing Insecurity

UNDOCUMENTED shines a light on the difficulties that come with being an undocumented person living in the United States and humanizes the impact of immigration policy.


Lisa Sanaye Dring

Seeking Air, 2020
Audio, theater, performance, poetry

CONTENT WARNING:
Illness, Racism

“This is a collaboration with Shih-Wei Wu and Yeeman Mui entitled Seeking Air. Through a series of conversations, musical and video explorations, we are creating a multi-genre collage in an effort to grapple with the layered, ever-shifting experiences of Asian Americans and Asian immigrants since the beginning of the pandemic. We reach toward mediums outside of our known fields as we are forced to extend our perception past what we thought was possible one year ago.”—LSD

Image courtesy of Shih-wei Wu.


Image courtesy of the artist.

Kendra Ware

Soñar es luchar, 2020
Video, performance

“Soñar es luchar is a lucid dream about wild fires, urban rebellions and the longing to fly… shot on iphones during the pandemic.” — KW


Weng San Sit

Routine As Repertoire, 2020-21
Photography

“Portrait of Vivian Stancil and husband Turner after sharing her early morning swim routine. When Vivian was 50 years old, her doctor told her that she needed to immediately improve her health or she may not live to 60. Despite being afraid of the water—she’s legally blind and had never been in a pool before—she was determined to learn how to swim for exercise. Now at 73 years old, she is an award-winning senior Olympic swimmer who has started a foundation that provides free swim lessons to kids and adults.” —WSS

Image courtesy of Wilding Cran Gallery.


Anthony Fung

Resilience, 2020
Audio, video

“Resilience is a piece that was composed during the pandemic. It was then recorded with musicians from around the world, and it is to remind and inspire people to remain resilient amongst tough times.”— AF

Video courtesy of the artist.


Earth to Jordi

ASSATA, n.d.
Video, performance, audio

CONTENT WARNING:
Racism, Racially Motivated Violence

“My work is heavily informed by my spiritual practice. The mediums I have been exploring with are sound, trance work, repetition, wax, movement, and channeling (known as improvisation to some)… ASSATA is a film that I made using the words of ASSATA Shakur.”—ETJ

Video courtesy of the artist and Agne Bachus.


Melinda James

Oklahoma is Black, n.d.
Documentary film

“‘Oklahoma is Black’ is a portrait of Black life on the Northeast side of Oklahoma City. It is a meditation on the resilience of a community and the places in which it thrives, of its complexities and its nuances, and its concern of what has passed and for what’s to come. By weaving images and sounds of community and spaces, viewers are asked to be active participants and, through bearing witness, engage with and arrive at their own conclusions about how past, present, and future intersect with those living on the Northeast side of Oklahoma City.”—MJ

Video courtesy of the artist.


Image courtesy of the artist and Victoria Lewis.

Mikki Hernandez

Cake Mix: Learning to Love All Your Ingredients, 2020-21
Literature

Cake Mix: Learning to Love All Your Ingredients, is a picture book for children ages 5-8. The story features a young mixed-race girl named Remy who is asked the challenging question, ‘What are you?’ by her new classmates. Feeling confused about where she belongs, Remy’s mother teaches her what it means to be mixed while doing her favorite activity – baking a cake! Remy discovers being mixed is something to be proud of and returns to her classroom with newfound acceptance and confidence.” —MH


Molly Surazhsky

PPE • People’s Power Enhancement, 2020
Sculpture, social practice, new media

PPE • People’s Power Enhancement is a series of public artworks by Molly Surazhsky. Appearing simultaneously on 10 billboards across Los Angeles this October, PPE is an image campaign intended to engage the public in political action. Each billboard features an individual or duo wearing artist-made facemasks emblazoned with slogans such as ‘Care For All,’ ‘Redistribute Wealth,’ ‘Black Lives Matter,’ and ‘Vote Nov. 3.'” —MS

Image courtesy of Courtney Coles.


Image courtesy of the artist

Sharon Louise Barnes

Holla, Holla, Holla, 2020
Painting, Sculpture, Mixed Media

“The piece uses symbolism found in ready-made church fans that were hand painted with acrylic, with some collaged with digital prints. The vertical and diagonal threads speak to ties between public protest and mourning. In 2020, protest and mourning, that are persistent and historic components of the Black Church, widened on an unprecedented scale into mass secular, political outpourings. The public protests continued even under the harsh glare of the COVID-19 pandemic, which in itself, was a cause of mass mourning. The fans rising up the wall, symbolize hope.” — SLB


Oscar Free

Stand Silent, 2020
Audio, video, performance

CONTENT WARNING:
Racism, Racially Motivated Violence

“Written the midst of civil unrest in Los Angeles following the George Floyd murder, ‘Stand Silent’ is a global protest anthem which aims to question America’s silent majority. ‘Stand Silent’ is performed by South African born artist Candice Pillay and Flint, Michigan-based rapper Jon Connor who met while collaborating with Dr. Dre on his 2015 album ‘Compton’. The accompanying music video, directed by Guthrie Melchiade, features ‘The Boomsquad’, a multigenerational, Inglewood-based street dance crew. Stand Silent was produced by Oscar Free at the NoiseGarage in Van Nuys.”—OF

Video courtesy of the artist.


Image courtesy of the artist.

Morgan Lieberman

Untitled, 2020
Photography

“The Compton Cowboys led a ‘peace ride’ with their horses through the city of Compton during the Black Lives Matter protest movement in early June.”—ML


Russell Taylor

W A K E U P !, n.d.
Audio, video, performance

“Creating this project was a beautiful partnership that showcases the power of Art to sound the alarm. Sickness, social injustice, poverty and violence ebb and flow like the waves of our polluted oceans. It is time for real change, time for us all to Wake Up and face ourselves in the deep. Let Art sound the alarm.”—RT

Video courtesy of the artist and Malcolm Purnell.


Sonia Rao

Louder, n.d.
Audio, video, performance

“For the upcoming election, the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) Civic Engagement Fund asked me to create art that would ‘inspire and make sure AAPI stories and experiences are represented’ to galvanize the AAPI vote. Mine is only one AAPI story, but I thought that a song I wrote about finding my way back to my voice could help AAPI remember the power of our collective voices.”—SR

Video courtesy of the artist and Jen Rosenstein.


Album image courtesy of Mia Chamasmany.

Patrice Scott

The Uprise, n.d.
Audio

“This is a musical piece that I created which is titled ‘The Uprise’. It is an expression of how oppressed people will no longer accept what has been going on under past and current conditions.”—PS


Randy Gist

Anthem of Hope, n.d.
Audio, video

“‘Anthem of Hope’ is very much so an extension of my personality and how I see the world. There’s a little bit of darkness where there is light and where there is sadness humor and joy can still exist. It was really fun being able to make one piece of cohesive art by myself using music, photography, and video editing. My hope is that ‘Anthem of Hope’, simply inspires people in anyway that is positive (whatever that means to you)”.—RG

Video courtesy of the artist.


John Fluker

Keep Your Head Up, 2020
Audio, video

“‘Keep Your Head Up’ is a collaborative Music & Video Project with Corey Dee Williams, featuring musicians affected by COVID-19 here in the USA and as far as the UK. The message is branded as ‘Funky Optimism’ and I also arranged and performed the background vocals and I appear briefly in the beginning of the video.”—JF

Video courtesy of Corey Dee Williams.


Image courtesy of the artist and Lyle Anthony.

Carl Seanté McGrier II

Love Wins, 2020
Audio

“‘Love Wins’ is a single written by the singer-songwriter, model and Popstars winner Lyle Anthony. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we began working together in hopes of bringing positive messages to to the LGTBQ community during the lockdown. The song ‘Love Wins’ resonated with a lot of his followers since the United States has gone through a lot of social hardship and unfairness during the pandemic. ‘If You Believe’ was a phrase that cemented the only requirement of coexisting in our society. Simply Believing in Love, helps defeat the hate. Being the producer and composer on this particular song resonated with me and my LA community as well.”—CSM


Image courtesy of Anna Azarov. Image title: Crisis of the Ego.

Chico Mann

In the Streets, 2020
Audio

“The piece titled, ‘In the Streets’ came about in response to the crises of 2020 namely, CoVid, the struggle for racial justice, and the presidential election. The intent was to capture the sense of urgency of these crises juxtaposed with the reflective nature of quarantine.”—CM


Dexter Story

Whose Streets? Protest Sound Image, 2020
iPhone X field recording and image

CONTENT WARNING:
Racism, Racially Motivated Violence

“This stereo field recording of the well-attended George Floyd protest in Hollywood, California on June 7, 2020 is my submission for the DCA’s Reimagined Public Art. The unique recording is titled ‘Whose Streets? Protest Sound Image’ and is aural public art as evidenced by its anonymous and spontaneous call and response. The multi-voice orchestration of widespread anger and exasperation is a provocation inspired by the perception of rampant police brutality. It was recorded on an iPhone X using the Voice Memo app.”—DS

iPhone X field recording and image courtesy of the artist.


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