NYC’s International Human Rights Art Festival Makes a Timely Appearance

Women's March participants

Recent political turmoil has inspired reactions like the Women’s March–and art like what will be displayed at the first ever International Human Rights Art Festival in New York City. Image: Unsplash

With tensions in politics and in the streets high in a way they haven’t been since the Civil Rights era, New York City’s first International Human Rights Art Festival is coming exactly when it’s needed.

Curated by producer Tom Block, the event will take place over three days and showcase more than 150 artists at 50 events.

“The goal is basically to bring together strong, passionate, sincere activist artists to present their positions, their ideas on a lot of social concerns, and certainly recent political social events that seem more pressing,” said Block of his festival. There will be presentations, gallery showings, theater performances, and workshops, all in an environment where attendees can circulate freely and meet the artists and performers.

While politics will be far from taboo, and statement-making works are welcome, Block’s goal has been for the whole festival to be positive and beauty-focused. “I try to stay away from angry art,” he explains. He’s also organized several child-oriented workshops, themed around introducing children to advocacy and the dialogues of social change.

Performers will include Delirious Dances, Poetic People Power, and many more. A presentation of particular importance will be “Muslim Women Speak” on March 4, which will include a panel of Muslim women discussing current political and cultural issues and also answering questions. The festival as a whole is meant to be educational. When you’ve taken in the sights of it all, it would be worth it to walk to the Museum of Modern Art, which has staged its own quiet protest on behalf of human rights by hanging up art from banned nations in the middle of their Eurocentric permanent collections.

The International Human Rights Art Festival takes place from March 3-5, 2017, at Dixon Place, 161A Chrystie Street in Manhattan. KidsFest workshops will take place on March 4-5 from 9:30-noon. Admission ranges from $10-$20, with many free events.

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