Artist, Activist Tony Papa to Highlight Cruel Drug War with Art Installation in Oakland Nov. 9-11

Press Release November 2, 2006
Media Contact

Tony Newman at (646) 335-5384 or Tommy McDonald at (646) 335-2242

The Harm Reduction Coalition conference brings together hundreds of drug policy reform advocates from across the country to discuss effective public health approaches to dealing with drug use and misuse. The conference will take place November 9-12 at the Marriot, Oakland City Center.

“The Drug War” is an art installation by artist/activist Anthony Papa. The installation is a multi-media presentation that visually portrays some of the most compelling drug war issues in the news. The visual narratives in the installation are powerful reminders of the raging war on drugs that ravages many of our communities.

“The use of art as a political weapon is not new,” says Papa who discovered his political awareness through his art and has used his art as a vehicle to fight the drug war. “Through history, the role of the artist as a social commentator has been invaluable. Art is a great vehicle for expressing views to others in a way that is unmatched in any other media outlet for its truthfulness”.

“Like Picasso’s ‘Guernica’ and Goya’s ‘Third of May,’ which both powerfully portrayed the atrocities of war, my installation follows their lead in revealing the impact of America’s drug war.”

Papa spent 12 years in prison for a first time non-violent drug offense. While imprisoned, he discovered his artistic talent. In 1995, after a showing of his art at the Whitney Museum, his case attracted national attention. Two years later, New York Governor George Pataki granted Papa executive clemency. Papa currently works for the Drug Policy Alliance.

The installation highlights issues that affect all Americans, whether they use drugs or not. It is steeped in a continuous motif of an upside down American flag, which signifies the universal concept the state of distress in war.

Papa hopes the installation raises awareness for mainstream society who rarely think about the drug war.

“I use my art as a means of visually translating the deep emotional responses of the human condition. My life choices forced me to discover my hidden artistic talent. In the same way I try to make that intuitive connection with the viewer by living through my work, breaking down barriers that separate us from truth.”



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