THEME: What do you think is the role of the POLITICAL in your art? 

We are asking you to share your ideas about how—and how deeply—political concerns play a role in the art you produce and how you present it to the world. Here are some questions to start you thinking:

Do you consider art as refuge OR soap box/cultural canary/conscience/satire?

Do you see art as escape OR engagement?

For you, is art about transcendence or does it keep you in the fray?

Do you employ your art as a vehicle for cultural critique?

To what extent do your political concerns appear in your art?

To what extent do your moral concerns act as your artistic muse?

Do you work from a political/moral/spiritual base? Are these fundamentally different or separate? Do they overlap in your art?

How do you think of visual culture? Is it part of the general cultural stream, or does it have a moral/political voice?

Is art just a way to state your political stance or do you see your work as a form of activism, intended to effect change?

Carolyn Forche says in a Q & A somewhere: “If you want to write political poems, become political.” In other words, the work comes out of our lives, not our heads, so it will reflect what we’re doing.

Anyway, there are great questions around what art can do. Is its role to stand outside the political world offering a vision of something more clear and pure, intensely observant, or is its role to get down and dirty? Can one artist do both?


Journal Submission guidelines for UMVA Members Showcase:

Deadline: December 1st, 2019

  • We invite MAJ member artists to submit up to 4 JPEG or png images (NO TIFF files), approximately 2800 pixels on width, resolution 72dpi.

  • Include an image list and statement or brief essay in Word doc. format, NOT a PDF.

  • Label each image file as follows: your last name_Number of Image_Title (with no spaces in the title). Please DO NOT put whole caption/credit in image file label, see image list/caption format below (if you are submitting for a group put your own last name in first).

  • Label your document file names: Last Name_Title

  • Image list/caption format: create a list that is numbered to match the number in your image file label that includes the following: Artist’s Name, Title of Work, medium, size (example: 9 x 12 in.), date (optional), photo credit (example: photo: Ansel Adams) if not included we assume it is courtesy of the artist. Example: Unknown Artist, Untitled, oil on canvas, 9 × 12 in., 2000 (photo: Ansel Adams).

  • Please wait until all of your material is compiled to submit.

Put “Role of the Political” in the subject line and submit by email to by the December 1st deadline. MAJ will limit the “Members’ Showcase” section to UMVA members who have not been published in the past year.

We are no longer able to accommodate artists’ pre-formatted visual essays. Our editors will lay-out text and images submitted using the new guidelines above.

It is the MAJ’s policy to request and then publish image credits. We will not publish images the submitter does not have the right to publish. However, it is to be assumed that any uncredited or unlabeled images are the author’s/submitter’s own images. By submitting to the MAJ, you are acknowledging respect for these policies.

Thank you,

MAJ Editorial Board

Natasha Mayers, Dan Kany, Nora Tryon, and Betsy Sholl (poetry editor)

*Image at top of page: Suzanna Lasker, EXIT.