Art, Opinion

Artistic Advocacy  – How Artist Influence Social Change

Nmesoma Okwudili


September 7, 2023

Art has always had a profound impact on how civilisations are shaped and how social transformation is influenced. Artists have used their artistic expressions to promote diverse causes and effect substantial changes in everything from literature and performance to visual arts and music.

Art has always been a potent medium for bringing up important social concerns and starting discussions. The terrible realities of poverty, injustice, and discrimination have been captured in paintings, sculptures, and photographs, generating empathy and inspiring action. For instance, the hardship of underprivileged communities has been highlighted in the works of artists like Francisco Goya and Jacob Riis, causing society to face painful truths and spurring transformation.

Another compelling art form that has successfully brought people together is music. In the fight against injustice and oppression, protest songs have acted as anthems of resistance. Bob Dylan’s folk anthems from the civil rights struggle and the anti-war songs from the 1960s continue to serve as exemplary examples of how musicians can energise the general public and spark social change.

Literature has also been crucial to activism. Authors like Harriet Beecher Stowe, whose book “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” exposed the horrors of slavery, have influenced public opinion and questioned conventional wisdom. Readers can immerse themselves in many viewpoints and understand the problems of oppressed people through literature, which provides a distinctive storytelling platform.

 Theatre and performance art have also dominated advocacy campaigns. Live performances have the capacity to deepen bonds and inspire introspection due to their immediacy and emotional intensity. The “Theatre of the Oppressed” by Augusto Boal invites audience participation and discussion while encouraging viewers to think of alternate answers to societal problems.

Artists are still at the forefront of advocacy groups in the modern world. The ability of artists to spread their messages through social media platforms, online galleries, and streaming services has increased the reach of artistic expression in the digital age. As evidenced by the abundance of murals, digital artwork, and music that is motivated by movements like Black Lives Matter, art has been used by these movements to spread awareness, express indignation, and demand justice.

The ability of art to transcend language barriers makes it an effective instrument for global advocacy. Projects like JR’s “Inside Out” have shown images of people from various origins in public places all across the world, showing shared human experiences and building cross-cultural understanding. People may communicate emotionally with one another because to the common language of art, which promotes empathy and cooperation.

However, the relationship between art and activism is not without complications. Some contend that art’s essential value is found in its capacity to arouse feelings and provide individual interpretations, and that associating it simply with advocacy may damage its authenticity. Additionally, the commercialisation of art can lessen its impact, raising issues regarding “artwashing,” in which businesses appropriate creative messages to look socially concerned without actually taking any meaningful action.

Art’s function in advocacy is dynamic and complex. Artists continue to use their artistic abilities to affect social change, from historical works that revealed societal inequities to modern digital expressions that unify worldwide communities. Artists use many mediums to challenge perceptions, spark dialogues, and motivate action. While the relationship between art and advocacy is subtle, there is no doubting that artistic expressions have a long history of altering the path of civilisations and generating constructive change.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles