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Art and politics: two essential forces that are frequently at odds with one another. “The Ripple Effect: Currents of Socially Engaged Art,” which opens October 25 at the Art Museum of the Americas, tackles this complicated relationship as it relates to different locations throughout the Western hemisphere. The works, created by 10 different artists, straddle social justice issues from immigration to the environment, including the sweeping impact of D.C.’s rapid gentrification and rising violence in parts of Mexico. But don’t come in expecting delicate works in frames: Comical street signs, umbrella structures, and shovels play integral roles in some of the installations. It’s an experience meant to foster dialogue between the artists, the viewers, and the environment in which they all exist. Every work in the exhibit is intended to hit the audience and create a reaction that forces movement, not unlike the rain drop that hits the water’s surface creating, well, a ripple effect.

The exhibit, co-presented by the Washington Project for the Arts, is on view 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays to Sundays to Jan. 13 at The Art Museum of the Americas, 201 18th St. NW. Free. museum.oas.org. (202) 458-6016.