Being a leftist means never having to say “I’m sorry” or “I was an arrogant, deceitful, deluded, genocidal jerk.” Or whatever works.
With almost mathematical certainty, leftists gravitate toward rigidity and oppression while swearing the opposite. Since the French Revolution, careening through the Soviets and the Killing Fields, leftists never change. Neither death nor taxes move them, and reality rarely blurs their myopia. Leftism is anchored and fed by party lines; and as the centuries creep by, there is always a “party” and there is always a “line.”
These thoughts were plaguing me as I considered the left and its stand on abortion. Specifically, why do the majority of American artists embrace leftism/liberalism, including its baby burning (or hacking) efforts? The incongruity of artists opposing human rights, when all along we expect a stand for the oppressed, a voice for the downtrodden and all those Emma Lazarus-type notions.
American reality is that the fungible mass of leftists adopts whatever their leaders decree or the prevailing mood of their peers. No quibbling. Unfortunately, abortion at all stages is now a Democratic Party platform on which most Western artists appear to have sold their souls and limited their potential themes.
Occasionally there are hints of burgeoning individualism. In 2008 Marc Quinn crafted nine large marble pieces of a developing child in the womb. He was followed by celebrated British artist Damien Hirst in 2013, with a row of 14 colossal sculptures of the stages of pregnancy in Doha, Qatar. Since they are a permanent outdoor installation with statues up to 40 feet, in full view of freeways, they can’t be missed at the Sidra Medical Center. They are quite impressive.
Hirst called these “The miraculous journey” and said he was inspired, after having children of his own, to create 216 metric tons’ worth of burgeoning baby boy.
“Everyone talks about our life’s journey, but we have a whole journey before you’re born,” he said to the New York Times. Too bad his message didn’t reach Hillary or Cecile “baby livers” Richards, so condemned infants might journey far away from them.
Considering Qatar is a Muslim nation with cultural and art prohibitions, this was quite the coup. Yet doing something similar in the U.S. or Europe is almost a guaranteed impossibility because of the strident, repressive nature of liberal politics. Between the ACLU, NARAL and general leftism, there is an implicit but solid threat eliciting self-censorship. This is especially noxious and limiting in art communities and art institutions, and they all know it.
Hirst and Quinn are able to do this because they ran past the PC gauntlet and are household names in the UK and elsewhere. Would they dare such inflammatory subjects if they were unknowns in need of gallerists and curators? Canadian blogger Lou Iacobelli had the same thoughts, asking, “Would any medical centre in the west have had the courage to commission and then install these sculptures publicly for all to see and experience? … Would they commission such an ambitious project promoting human life?”
It took years of pickled sharks and ubiquitous polka-dots to get Hirst to a place where he had the cultural power to make something suspiciously “pro-life.”
Columbia isn’t considered a land of milk, honey and human rights by most, but they are free to do something Americans can’t: create an enormous piece of land-art in honor of fetal life. This earthen monument is cut into a public roadside between Medellin and Santo Domingo Savio, a notorious world-class slum.
Carve this into a hill in Detroit and watch frothing libs crawl out to condemn it. “Poverty! The horror! Children should be spared and mercifully killed instead!”
Cultural oppression doesn’t mean artists can’t make pro-life art or have opinions, but they may not be seen or heard. You can bet your brushes that being on the right side won’t bring many grants or museum commissions. They are too busy pushing “cutting-edge art” that remains safely “inside” the edges of prescribed, liberal thought. Rigid, homogeneous expression is de rigeur for controversial topics such as homosexuality or abortion.
Artists make art that moves them and is personally significant, whether they have champions or battle foes. If they stay at it and do excellent work, eventually people will see it. Much pro-life art now is graphic or digital art made for the web, which is how most people find images at this point. Several organizations support this on social media, including Students for Life, Abolish Human Abortion and The Pro-Life Artist.
Individual artists who take on abortion in a clear, pro-life manner include Galazios-Fotera, William Kurelek and Britain’s Judith Gait. Yes, the list is short, because few care to be known primarily as a “pro-life artist.” It’s a shot of arsenic to the career. Racism, environmentalism and social justice are fine, but babies are verboten.
(Incidentally, if you work in the arts and create pro-life work or know someone who does, please contact me.)
Recently a young college student added her name to this list rather involuntarily. Rebecca Gonsalves was assigned a “creative self-expression portrait” project in film and asked to deal with something she was “passionate about.” When Gonsalves chose “abolishing abortions,” her professor forbade her choice, claiming: “I don’t agree with your opinion and you are wrong.” She did it anyway.
When it feels like the world is having a grande-mal seizure and being flushed down a black hole, abortion may seem less urgent than other issues; but I don’t think so. Norming and industrializing mass murder hasn’t been good for America’s soul, and there is a harvest of toxic fallout everywhere. We all know something is very wrong and it may come down to the 60 million dead babies weighing on our consciences.
If you are a student, writer, pastor, politician or artist – really, anyone who is pro-life – be vocal and bold about it. It may bring some backlash and bile, but do it anyway. I think we will be surprised at what may happen.