In late February, I had the great pleasure of being able to speak to three elders and another youth on the topic of art, and how it can be much more than just something nice to look at. We spoke about how art can be alive – how it is alive – and how it can be as revolutionary and evolutionary as we are. We discussed how art is but an expression of the human experience, and how it therefore lives vicariously through our movement, our portrayals, our moments captured; our actions of wanting to share our perspective in the most specific way possible. Art lives, because we live, and because we create. Sometimes that creation is provoked by hardship, strife, or sorrow, but our creations always have the potential to bring understanding to one human being, and perhaps justice to another. 

We discovered that art can be more than visual – those occupying Standing Rock are performing artistic action every single day. You can’t necessarily see it – lest you take a photo, which has been done and is considered artistic in its own right – but when you are there, you can only feel it. When we perform artistic action, it provokes a feeling that that action is much more significant and important than any other action in that moment, and that feeling itself is artistic as well. 

We need creativity and art when we are making change – these feelings and changes in humanity are desperate to be recorded, and in words it isn’t always easy. In images, in dances, in actions, though, very specific notions and feelings can be shared between one person and another, in a way so clear that the mutual understanding goes beyond words. 

Submitted by Brianna Skildum