Art and Politics


In the exhibition, The Schoolhouse and The Bus we see how Pablo Helguera and Suzanne Lacy address issues that are very prevalent today. Given our current political situation, our country is very divided, giving the appearance of deep cultural difference, when in reality, there are great similarities to our everyday experiences. Helguera’s view on Panamericanism is vital in our current political and social climate. We must exemplify how The School of Panamerican Unrest relates to our daily lives.

In The School of Panamerican Unrest, Pablo Helguera embarks in a cross-continental journey across the Americas. The project involved performances, discussions, think tanks, and film screenings to highlight connections among the different regions of the Americas. He envisioned the America’s as united beyond economic and political standards. Pablo Helguera’s work is relevant to the disconnect occurring in U.S. politics today. A political and economic structure that currently binds the American region is NAFTA, which is a trade agreement to make trade easier between Canada, The U.S., and Mexico. However, President Donald Trump believes “it was the worst trade deal the U.S. has made” and is working to change it. There is an array of conflicting views on how to go about this amendment. Some viewpoints see the change as strictly political, but many others feel it is a direct attack Dissolving NAFTA runs counter to Helguera’s view of Panamericanism.

Pablo Helguera worked to focus on themes of immigration, pedagogy, mobility, and engagement. His vision of Panamericanism was to emphasize the connections between all the Americas beyond political and economic relations. Helguera’s think tanks and lectures were focused on the local political, social, and cultural dynamics into each region and used the addresses to show how similar we all really are. The message of unity and dialogue are relevant to what our countries are experiencing today. The discussion facilitated by Helguera among artists, activists, and the general public need to be used today. As an institution full of activism, UCSB’s students, staff, and faculty come from diverse cultural backgrounds. Therefore, we have the strength to delegitimize any separationist and isolationist views that are pushed on us through this current administration.

-Damani McArthur, Education Outreach Program Intern

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