My name is Serena, and I’ve been working with the Communications Team here at the Center this summer. I have a confession: I grew up without television. Wait what?! This may seem like a strange way to introduce myself, (especially for someone halfway through the last year of a media studies degree!) but over the past few weeks, I’ve been racking my brain for a reason why I’m so interested in learning about pop culture.
I really do think my fascination might stem from feeling like an alien observer as everyone else discussed the Disney Channel’s latest offerings at recess. While at the time I may have felt foolish for failing to catch every Hannah Montana reference, this experience left me continually curious about why and how people consume pop culture.
And, through my work here at the Center this summer, I’ve learned all about how pop culture can be a powerful source of inspiration for artistic activists and anyone looking to make a change in the world! I’ve spent the past few weeks exploring exactly how by researching and creating my Pop Culture Field Trips video series, which I’m so excited to announce is now available to watch on our website!
Let’s back up a little bit: when I began my internship with the Center at the beginning of this summer, I knew very little about artistic activism. While I’ve been interested in politics and various social justice causes since middle school and have attended my fair share of protests and demonstrations, I wouldn’t have dared to call myself an activist three months ago. However, through my studies of International Relations and Film & Media Studies in college, I discovered my passion for exploring all the different ways culture and politics intersect.
When I learned about the Center, it sounded like an incredible group of people who put those intersections into action to make the world a better place, rather than simply observing them. And, through my experience here at the Center this summer, I’ve learned that artistic activism is doing just that–and so much more! It’s been such an incredible, eye-opening, revelatory experience for me, and I’m so incredibly thankful to everyone here for teaching me so much.
Pop Culture Field Trips!
One of the key resources which has aided me immensely in my journey as a novice artistic activist has been our co-founders’ incredible book, The Art of Activism. It’s full of so many real-life examples, illustrations, and humor that makes learning about serious issues full of positive energy and mirth, which, to me, represents the spirit of artistic activism at its best. Thus, as I thought about how I wanted to encapsulate my time here and create a tangible resource of my own, I knew I wanted to inspire others to utilize all the Center’s amazing tools–particularly the Art of Activism and its accompanying workbook–for themselves.
So, I combined my interest in pop culture with my own artistic activism education through my series of Pop Culture Field Trips, where I document my journey exploring culture as a source of inspiration through several exercises from the Art of Activism Workbook. Parts 1 and 2 are both available now, and I sincerely hope that after watching, you’ll be inspired to try out some of the workbook exercises for yourself!
Artistic Activism around the World
During the 2020-2021 social protests in Chile, Colombia, and Peru, Latin American fans of K-pop used their social networks to sabotage the hashtags of conservative influencers that discredited the mobilizations. Through coordinated actions, young people managed to mock and minimize this political content by massively posting fancams, GIFs, images, and memes of their Korean artists.
Revolutionizing Activism: Fans
In this two-part conversation, watch Steve Lambert explore fan activism and its relationship to civic engagement. With Sangita Shresthova and Andrew Slack, discover how fan communities of Harry Potter and Bollywood are using shared interests to build solidarity and creative campaigns that make a difference.
- Top: Collage of Pop Culture Explorer Gear by Serena Sandweiss
- Middle: Illustration by Steve Lambert from the book The Art of Activism
- Column-Left: Fans of South Korean singer Heo Young Saeng watch his video play in a small video viewing area inside a shopping mall in Lima, Peru (AP)