Art and Creativity
There's a long history of art in action. From public murals to protest signs, letters to the editor to novels, photography to films, and performance pieces to full-length plays, artists and creative folks have expressed and taken action on issues affecting their lives throughout millennia. Using creative mediums to express opinions and participate in movements can be a compelling way to inspire people to take action and shine a spotlight on issues that aren't receiving enough attention from the public or the media.
There's a number of ways creative people can participate in movements using their talents. Here are a few:
- Paint, sculpt, carve, create. Use your skills and talents to tell stories, share ideas, and express opinions. Share them via social media and consider submitting your art for public exhibition. For example, you might seek out exhibits specifically calling for art by underrepresented artists, including women, women of color, LGBTQIA folks, and others (for example, Manhattan Arts International's HerStory Exhibition)
- Take photographs. Photography can be an incredibly effective tool for raising awareness and telling stories that might otherwise not get attention. For example, the 2015 photo of a young refugee boy who tragically drowned before his family was able to safely reach the shores of Europe led to a significant increase in public awareness as well as thousands of dollars in donations to organizations serving refugee families. While every photo may not have an impact of that scale, each one has the potential to shed light on important issues and amplify the voices and experiences of others. So take pictures and share them widely – tell stories through your lens!
- Write. Books and novels have told stories, informed the masses, and exposed truths throughout history. Journalists and playwrights have done the same, sharing their words in newspapers and exposés, on stages and online media. Consider such radical voices as Ida B. Wells, Nelly Bly, and Upton Sinclair. Or Arthur Miller's “The Crucible.” Research, write, and publish/present, whether it's on a national news site or a letter to the editor, a community stage or the town square, even your own social media or blog.
- Film. Similar to photography, film is a very effective method for capturing moments in time and sharing stories with a broader audience. Whether you're using a professional film set-up or just your smartphone, you have the power of film in your hands. Use it to take action!
- Perform. Music and performance art can be powerful ways to inspire action, encourage exploration, and tell compelling stories. Many musical and performance artists use this medium to protest, educate, and enlighten…or even simply enrage or engage! One great example of this is the Russian feminist punk rock band, Pussy Riot. The stage can be a very effective pulpit.
- Protest. Art and protest have been partners in action for years. Use your creative
talents to craft compelling, engaging protest art to display the next time you hit the streets. Want to see great examples of past protest
art? Check out "Signs of Creative Resistance at the 2018 Women's March"
by Hrag Vartanian on the Hyperallergic website (a good source for content on social change and art) or "Signs of the Times: Museums Are Collecting Protest Posters From the 2018 Women's March" by Sarah Cascone on Artnet.
Want to learn more about how to use art and creativity to take action? Check out some of these articles and resources:
- “A Brief History of Protest Art” by Rachel McFarlane (Format Magazine)
- “A Brief History of Protest Art From the 1940s to Until Now – In Pictures” – The Guardian
- “A Linguist Explains How to Write Protest Signs That Everyone Will Remember” by Daniel Midgley
- “The Power of Protest Photography” by Emily Anne Epstein (The Atlantic)
- “Protest Art – From Picasso to Pussy Riot and Banksy, These Are The Greatest Examples” by Elena Martinique (Widewalls)
- “Writers Unite! The Return of the Protest Novel” by Alex Clark (The Guardian)
- “Writing Through Protest: 12 Influential Black Writers Share Why Their Work is So Crucial” by Darnell L. Moore (Mic)