Social Commentary Art at WCIAC

Macomb, IL – A collection of politically and socially engaged art work from around the world can now be seen in western Illinois.

The exhibit is called "Paper Politics." It's on display at the West Central Illinois Arts Center, 25 East Side Square, Macomb. The gallery is open Fridays, Noon to 4:00pm, and Saturdays, 10:00am to 4:00pm.

Artist Josh MacPhee of Brooklyn, NY is curator of the show, which features work by more than 180 artists.

MacPhee says "Paper Politics" started in 2004. It was supposed to be a small, one-time event in Chicago.

"We hung it literally in the hallways of an office," says MacPhee. "And the opening was flooded with people. People lined up, winding around the office, to buy these prints."

He was then asked to bring the show to Seattle and it took off from there.

"From Seattle it's now traveled to a dozen additional cities over the past six years," says MacPhee.

He says the core of the exhibit has remained the same but new works are added in every city.

MacPhee is part of the polticial art collective Justseeds. He's been making political posters and t-shirts for years. He says those were the least expensive and easiest ways to get messages out before the Internet took off.

"Everyone wears t-shirts. So if you going to walk around as a sort of mobile billboard, why not be a mobile billboard for a cause that you care about?"

As for posters, he says a lot of that information is now distributed through the Internet. But he points out posters can still be effective.

"We all still do exist in physical space. We do still walk or drive down the street. We go to coffee shops or libraries or community centers," says MacPhee. "So it makes sense to put messages up in those spaces. In fact, they're some of the few remaining spaces in which lots of different people across diverse demographics still intersect."

"Paper Politics" will remain on display at the WCIAC through April 3. An artist and sponsor reception is planned for Friday, March 26, 5:00pm to 7:00pm.