Changing the world through art and the artists

Rounding a corner down one of the hallways, Kim and I stood in front of a large Middle-Eastern quilt stretching almost the entire length of the wall. And it was half-covered black with oil. Some of the images were recognizable, but many were blacked out completely. The oil splatters symbolized one of the great tragedies of war:

Changing the world through art and the artists

Tweet Erik Ruin, Untitled, Art has always been a tool for me to claim space, build power and speak out about the injustices that have shaped my social experience in the United States. For nearly a decade, most of my art directly served the immediate, short-term needs of social movement work. Separately, I would spend time developing my own body of work in my studio or collaborating with other artists.

For years, these two worlds remained separate. Neither the art-and-culture sector nor the social-justice sector was effectively building models for creative collaboration. The text below is an adaptation of my talk. Jeff Chang, a brilliant hip-hop critic and journalist, and one of my collaborators in co-founding Culture Strike, has encouraged us to imagine a wave when we think about political change.

Normally, when we envision a wave, we think about a climactic event, but in order to reach the peak, all kinds of forces—many of which you cannot see—need to come together. Artists are central, not peripheral, to social change.

In the world of art and culture, many of us help construct the conditions that lead to this climax. Culture is a space where we can introduce ideas, attach emotions to concrete change and win enthusiasm for our values.

With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it, nothing can succeed. You may attend a rally or vote, but you also read books, listen to music, engage with visual art, turn on the radio and create your identity through culture. To have the movements that make the wave, you need cultural workers.

Van Jones, design by Citizen Engagement Lab The environmental and human rights activist Van Jones has made an excellent graph mapping the political ecosystem.

On the left you have action, and on the right, ideas; elites are at the top, and the masses are below.

The inside game is the force that creates policy. On the outside, we apply tremendous pressure so that our elected officials pass laws that give us power.

5 Times Artists Have Changed the World October 13, by Ian But luckily, there are so many examples throughout history of artists using their art to push humanity forward that we can learn from, whether the cave paintings that first brought people together around belief systems or the hippies sitting in a circle singing Lennon and. Oct 12,  · 5 ways you can change the world through art One of those artists making this happen is and giving away cameras to young people who also dream of changing the world with their art. In the political world, we experience the wave’s peak moments through events like elections or policy wins, but we don’t always recognize the undercurrents and conditions that lead us there. In the world of art and culture, many of us help construct the conditions that lead to this climax.

The Occupy and immigrant rights movements are forceful players in this outside game, making sure that the inside is moving.

Normally, and especially when we are in campaign mode, we tend to think about what artists can contribute to the action space. We think about how artists can strengthen the will and push people to act. And this is a good thing. They think big, visionary ideas.

Ernesto Yerena, Peace Migrates, For the last 20 years, because funding for both the arts and social services has been cut, artists who wish to contribute to social change have often been tasked with holding community workshops.

While this is important, it also means we move further away from giving artists the space, time and resources to create a body of work.

Artists are immediately channeled into an action space because their contributions are viewed in transactional ways.

As artists, we need to communicate more than what we stand against or why particular policies affect us negatively, because limiting our commentary to such reactions would confine the social imaginary to existing political frameworks and systems that we do not control.

We should also present our vision for who we are, and show why that vision is a positive one. Working in the realm of ideas does not take energy away from the action space. Cultural strategies are as necessary as political strategies. With communication strategy you are still in the action space, meeting the needs of the campaign or reacting to dominant messages in the media.

The idea space presents more complex messages. It allows us to deal with contradictions and gray areas. Think about culture as rain readying the crops. To give you a sense of the time frame in which cultural shifts happen, and how that eventually translates into policy, look at LGBTQ culture, which finally made its way onto mainstream TV in the s.

Soon after came the Laramie Project, a play about the life of gay college student Matthew Shepard—who was tortured and murdered in —that was performed in high schools across the country. The injection of gay-friendly content into all aspects of our culture, from TV to high-school curricula and even sports, clearly spoke to our collective imagination.

Julio Salgado, I Am Undocuqueer, Imagine what it would be like if we could have a Laramie Project for immigrant rights, a play about undocumented youth, become popular in high schools.

How long would it take us to get to a place where migration was viewed as normal and natural, and where we respected the human rights of people who have crossed national borders? When is the right moment to inject culture into a political movement?


You go to the theater, watch sports or listen to music, and culture just happens to you. We need to understand timing politically to know when it makes sense for cultural interventions to happen.

The arts in this country have been devastated.We here at Soundfly love music for so many reasons, but we know in our hearts that music and art will always be with us because they allow us to express ourselves in the deepest ways — ways that can move the world forward toward the place of our hopes and dreams.

Aug 02,  · How Artists Change the World. By One person who serves as a model here was not an artist but understood how to use a new art form. they smash through some of the warped lenses through.

Oct 12,  · 5 ways you can change the world through art One of those artists making this happen is and giving away cameras to young people who also dream of changing the world with their art. Our Ever Changing World: Through the Eyes of Artists #4 Artists, ART & Story (Volume 4) [Karrie Ross, Hilarie Kelly] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers.

I believe that Artists are in some way Historians — that their work saves something from becoming forgotten. And5/5(6).

Clare Attwell – Changing The World Through Art

Jan 17,  · Why art has the power to change the world "Art can motivate people to turn thinking into doing." I believe that one of the major responsibilities of artists – and the idea that artists have responsibilities may come as a surprise to some – is to help people not only get to know and understand something with their minds but also to feel.

Aug 02,  · How Artists Change the World. By David Brooks.

Changing the world through art and the artists

Aug. 2, As usual, there were a ton of artists and musicians at the political conventions this year. they smash through some of the.

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