Art for the April 1st Strike

The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) is leading a one-day strike on April 1st. In Illinois, leaders of both political parties have orchestrated an artificial budget crisis. Under the pretext of this false scarcity of resources people like Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner are firing teachers, closing schools, and wreaking havoc on public education.  

Something particularly notable out this strike is that it is not just the CTU out there today. The strike is being billed as a call to action for entire city. This makes it unique. Other unions and labor organizations are supporting the action; the teachers are calling not just for better working conditions and pensions for themselves, but for an end to cuts and a fully funded public sector that can provide working class Chicagoans with the Right to the City. It is an explicitly political strike. It has been called illegal by the city government, but has nonetheless gained support from fast food and service employees, transit workers, students, parents, and artists, along with many others. In solidarity we are posting a small collection of images in support of the strike.

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One theme that stands out in these contributions – a theme that emerged sheerly by coincidence – is that of violence. “Austerity = Violence,” arrows in a book as if they are “killing” education, the violence of the state that comes in the form of brute, outward force or cold neglect. It is interesting that so many of our contributors thought in these terms. It is also very apt. Naturally, state government would never admit to their agenda being violence. But given the havoc and pain it wreaks on working people’s lives, what else could it be? And why does art play such a unique role in exposing the violence for what it is?

Hope Asya is a radical artist, labor organizer, and Marxist-feminist working toward a post-capitalist world through art and direct action. She is a contributing editor at Red Wedge.

Ilene Berman is a durational artist whose practice is based on the belief that art can (and should) change the world. 

Mike Farris is an artist. 

For the People Artists Collective is a collaborative network of radical artists of color in Chicago. More can be found out about them at their Facebook page. 

Craig E. Ross is an editor at Red Wedge. They are also a printmaker and cartoonist currently living in Southern Illinois who works mainly in woodblock prints. 

Adam Turl is an artist, writer and socialist currently living in St. Louis, Missouri. He is an editor at Red Wedge and is presently pre-occupied with exploring past and present Marxist strategies in studio art.