This interview has been a long time in the making. Partly because I find Evan Bissell‘s work so damn powerful that it felt difficult for me to do it justice. I knew I wanted to interview Evan after seeing the opening of his project, “The Knotted Line” last spring. It was one of the most moving experiences I’ve had viewing art.
“The Knotted Line” as an interactive, multi-disciplinary project that explores the historical relationship between freedom and confinement in the United States. It is comprised of over 50 miniature paintings, an interactive online timeline, and a curriculum guide for bringing this expansive history to classrooms of various ages. But what makes Evan’s work so powerful is not necessarily the end result but his approach to art-making wherein he appears more as a grassroots organizer than artist. Through political education, research, self-reflection, relationship building and community empowerment, Evan creates art that strikes at the core of my unrelenting questions and demands of cultural work: how can art function not as a passive form but an active agent for liberatory political practice? What is possible when we reject the distinction between artist, organizer, and community member?
Read the full interview with Evan Bissell on Organizing Upgrade.