Combatting Division with Art

Student project uses art to bring people of differing political ideologies together

Kit Nowicki, Staff Reporter

Giao Nguyen films Ben Hansen for ASSP project. (Courtesy of Laur Lugos)

With election day crawling ever closer and students being encouraged to vote, ASSP Vice President of Intercultural Affairs, Laur Lugos, is attempting to give students the tools necessary to break down the barrier between opposing political ideologies.

The project will extend over the 2020-2021 school year and allows students to use art to share their personal political experiences and opinions and engage in conversation with people who may disagree with them. The purpose of the project is to bridge the gap between students with different political ideologies by using art as a medium of communication.

“The goal of this project is to invite an introspective method of thinking, which is what art is so necessary for, because there’s something really special about the artists’ process in which people have to really listen to their environment, put together a piece in a perspective of what they believe, and then respond to the situation that they’ve found themselves in, and that’s something that’s unique to art,” said Lugos.

The first phase in the project will be a video trailer previewing the details of the project, while also inviting students to join the conversation. The premiere date is yet to be revealed, but it will be released sometime around election week. It will give prospective participants a sneak-peek of the discussions the project will address.

“The question that we’re asking to get people started with this is, ‘what does it mean to protect life?’ because that really does invite a variety of perspectives,” said Lugos. “They allow people to find common ground in what they believe,” said Lugos.

Lugos started this project as a means to offer a safe space for students to express their beliefs on the conservative to liberal spectrum.

Giao Nguyen films Aurelio Valdez for an upcoming project intending to unite people of all backgrounds and political ideologies. (Courtesy of Laur Lugos)

“I think that a lot of the time, especially when we’re trying to argue with people who have a different political ideology than we do, we value this cerebral, lofty way of thinking which is just not the genuine experience of many people whose bodies’ influence the way they experience the world. So, art kind of forces a new way of thinking that is humanizing to a lot of people,” said Lugos.

Lugos said that the artistic product itself is merely the vessel for a student to express their beliefs, learn about other people’s beliefs, and maybe discover more about themselves along the way.

“The process of people from all areas of the spectrum coming together and trying to think in a new and creative way is what I’m going after. If you sit down and you have to write a poem about why you believe what you believe ,you might very well decide that you have some things to figure out or that you might change your mind in the middle of that process,” said Lugos.

Fourth-year ASSP President, José Flores, said that the project will serve as a good platform for students, many of which are first-time voters, to have these political discussions in an amicable setting.

Jordan Mielbracht is filmed by Giao Nguyen as part of project, the trailer will be released around the election week. (Courtesy of Laur Lugos)

“We need to have these conversations, we need to talk about stuff that not everyone’s talking about, and we need to give students agency in being advocates for stuff that they’re passionate about,” Flores said. “In a practical sense, it connects us as a community. SPU thrives on being a close-knit community, and since we’re lacking that, I think this is a very good way to just ease us back into that routine of being SPU.”

Flores said the project holds space for all opinions and ideologies without negating any other avenue of advocacy. It allows students to be politically active throughout the school year with a creative outlet.

Lugos hopes it will bring people of all backgrounds and skill levels together.

“It’s going to be visual and performative art, and it’s going to hopefully encapture a more diverse set of experiences,” said Lugos. “Even if you don’t consider yourself an artist, that’s what we’re here for, and that’s why we’re stepping into this way of thinking. We don’t have enough of this perspective in order to really understand and humanize each other.”

Any inquiries about the project can be directed to Lugos at [email protected]