Art is a catalyst for bringing social issues to the public. It can raise awareness, instigate dialogue, encourage personal growth, and even motivate action and change. Nineteenth-century French Realism, for example, provided a glimpse into the challenging daily lives of the working class. Frida Kahlo conveyed her political views and refusal to conform in her paintings, making her an icon for feminist and LGBTQ+ movements. The Harlem Renaissance movement saw literature, art, and music promote racial pride while challenging racism and stereotypes in favour of progressive politics and social integration. And more recently, the world has witnessed Banksy inscribe social commentary through satirical graffiti art on publicly visible surfaces. These are just a couple of examples of how art has impacted society by bearing witness and facilitating cultural resistance. Whether visual, musical, or performative, it communicates ideas and presents issues through different lenses. It offers an alternative form of expression and encourages contemplation. Now, more than ever is the time for art to bring social issues to light. Check out this 14-year-old boy’s slam poetry performance where he reflects on the inherent privilege he experiences as a white male and the need for equality in the world.
Banksy, "Girl with a Red Balloon", creative commons via Flickr