PHIL LESTEIN became a 24/7 Occupier when he had to give up his studio in November 2011 due to lack of funds. In addition to capturing OCCUPY Providence on video since day one, LeStein’s graphic design experience came in handy during the nascent stages of the movement when posters and flyers were needed to promote the rallies.
“As an artist, I am one who chooses to make work manifest itself in/as a narrative stance,” he underscores in his Artist Statement, “be it in as video (vérité style), photographic document(ation), or engaging elements as an ensemble through graphic design.”
> What is your involvement with the OCCUPY movement?
I began attending the GAs at the park on Oct. 06, 2011 & took to documenting the movement as best as I can, to not only bear witness, but to give voice. Initially, I was doing it with a (digital) video camera, but w/in the past two months, I’ve taken to using a still camera as well. I became a 24/7 occupier when I had to give up my studio on Nov. 30, 2011, due to lack of funds to pay my rent, since I’ve been unemployed now for over 18 months.
> Describe how the OCCUPY movement has influenced your creative process.
It’s made my work take on a political edge, primarily when generating posters & flyers, since, as an artist, besides my documentation of the movement, as alluded to above, I’ve also been providing Occupy Providence! with graphic design. It’s also the first movement that’s compelled me to really get active, for, while I’d protested in the past, it was never to this extent.
> What message do you hope to convey to the 99% with your artwork?
That you, i.e. the 99% are not exempt. That you are also being oppressed, That you have the power of a voice, a vote and compromised means to join in & make a difference. That those of us occupying are not hippies, even if some of us are old enough to qualify. Also, that there are occupiers who are employed, students, parents, young, old, experienced and not. That it behooves us all to get involved for the problems are that large.
PHIL LESTEIN is part of the #OCCUPY group exhibit at Yellow Peril Gallery, featuring artwork inspired by the OCCUPY movement. The exhibit will run from Thursday, 15 March to Sunday, 15 April 2012. Opening night reception will be on Thursday, 15 March, from 5PM – 9PM during Gallery Night in Providence, RI.