“It is the feeling of privacy in the voting booths, the feeling of communion in the libraries, the feeling of vitality everywhere…” –E. B. White
The above quote by E. B. White is from a piece in the New Yorker magazine, 1943, in response to the question, “What is the meaning of Democracy?” The art is from WE ARE THE CHANGE, a new picture book with artists Selina Aiko, Sophie Blackall, Sean Qualls, Dan Santat, and more, illustrating civil rights quotations. It’s a beautiful and inspiring book, and an honor to be included.
In celebration of Pete Seeger’s 100th birthday last week, I reread a favorite book, PROTEST SINGER by Alec Wilkerson. This is a slight but powerful volume on Seeger, and if you haven’t read this or any other book by Alec Wilkerson you’re in for a treat. I was struck by the similarities between White and Seeger: They both lived a life of conviction; had a deep respect for the natural world and humanity; and they both believed passionately in Democracy, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press.
As an artist who makes a living based on the freedom to express myself through print, I appreciate this quote by John Fitzgerald Kennedy: “If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him. We must never forget art is not a form of propaganda, it is a form of truth.”
Both Seeger and White understood their art was a vehicle for truth and for change. Indeed, their visions continue to "nourish the roots of our culture."