Art plays a key role in social movements throughout the world, exposing issues of social injustice, ranging from terrorism and racial tension, to sexism and domestic violence. Many artists choose to create works that address controversial issues in the world, and that question and evoke change through a visceral reaction. As a cultural conduit, art helps to subjectify emotions, grievances, and fears and represent those who may be otherwise voiceless or censored.
Many artists today are deeply committed to making their work speak out against or for social issues and subsequently change the way we perceive the world.
Through expressive talent, artists can challenge cultural narratives in an organic way that is more effective than traditional propaganda.
Temporary Poem of my time
by Yehuda Amichai
Hebrew writing and Arabic writing go from east to west,
from west to east.
Languages are like cats:
You must not stroke their hair the wrong way.
The clouds come from the sea, the hot wind from the desert,
The trees bend in the wind,
And stones fly from all four winds,
Into all four winds.
They throw stones,
Throw this land, one at the other,
But the land always falls back to the land.
They throw the land, want to get rid of it.
Its stones, its soil, but you can't get rid of it.
They throw stones, throw stones at me
In 1936, 1938, 1948, 1988,
Semites throw at Semites and anti-Semites at anti-Semites,
Evil men throw and just men throw,
Sinners throw and tempters throw,
Geologists throw and theologists throw,
Archaelogists throw and archhooligans throw,
Kidneys throw stones and gall bladders throw,
Head stones and forehead stones and the heart of a stone,
Stones shaped like a screaming mouth
And stones fitting your eyes
Like a pair of glasses,
The past throws stones at the future,
And all of them fall on the present.
Weeping stones and laughing gravel stones,
Even God in the Bible threw stones,
Even the Urim and Tumim were thrown
And got stuck in the beastplate of justice,
And Herod threw stones and what came out was a Temple.
Oh, the poem of stone sadness
Oh, the poem thrown on the stones
Oh, the poem of thrown stones.
Is there in this land
A stone that was never thrown
And never built and never overturned
And never uncovered and never discovered
And never screamed from a wall and never discarded by the builders
And never closed on top of a grave and never lay under lovers
And never turned into a cornerstone?
Please do not throw any more stones,
You are moving the land,
The holy, whole, open land,
You are moving it to the sea
And the sea doesn't want it
The sea says, not in me.
Please throw little stones,
Throw snail fossils, throw gravel,
Justice or injustice from the quarries of Migdal Tsedek,
Throw soft stones, throw sweet clods,
Throw limestone, throw clay,
Throw sand of the seashore,
Throw dust of the desert, throw rust,
Throw soil, throw wind,
Throw air, throw nothing
Until your hands are weary
And the war is weary
And even peace will be weary and will be.
In an essay entitled “Change the Culture, Change the World,” artist Favianna Rodriguez said,
“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. Artists are central, not peripheral, to social change. To have the movements that make the wave, you need cultural workers.”
Trump’s planned major funding cuts to the Arts and Humanities, are going to impact those “cultural workers.
It might be easy for some to dismiss Art as a waste of resources when there are so many injustices in the world. But to dismiss art is to miss the point of art entirely.
According to Americans for the Arts
“Arts and culture promote understanding and action on issues facing our communities and the world. Americans for the Arts’ commitment to creative social change is embodied by its Animating Democracy program, which strengthens the role of artists and cultural organizations as leaders and partners in civic engagement and social change”
A healthy society is founded on the principles of justice, shared economic opportunity and sustainable environmental practices. Upholding human rights is fundamental.
As we look around us, art for social change exhibits itself in Graffiti, local art exhibits, theatre, poetry and Music.
John Legend is an R and B singer who promises to use his voice for good in his new album,# Darkness and Light, which explores issues of color social justice.
In a recent interview on NPR with R and B artist John Legend said that the
entertainment world has always been liberal. They have been intertwined with the gay and Lesbian community for many years, explored issues of interracial marriage, explored issues of color and race and travelled to perform globally. "The artist community is more inclusive by nature, by things they do."
Despite his generalization that "Country and Western artists tend to be more conservative", there are bands, The Dixie Chicks , for example, that challenged the status quo and challenged public opinion. Legend said,
“ If America doesn’t want to consume art from liberal minded people, then they won’t have a lot of choice." His opinion is that most creative people are liberal. .
Everyone has to weigh their decision about what they want to listen to or chose to see.
I Dream A World
By Langston Hughes
I dream a world where man
No other man will scorn,
Where love will bless the earth
And peace its paths adorn
I dream a world where all
Will know sweet freedom's way,
Where greed no longer saps the soul
Nor avarice blights our day.
A world I dream where black or white,
Whatever race you be,
Will share the bounties of the earth
And every man is free,
Where wretchedness will hang its head
And joy, like a pearl,
Attends the needs of all mankind-
Of such I dream, my world!
Gendercide awareness project in Dallas this week is another example of contemporary art raising awareness about horrendous issues in the world.
Do you know over 100 million women are missing in the world?
This is due to social causes, not natural disaster.
The term gendercide refers to the elimination of females in certain parts of the world by:
- sex-selective abortion
- female infanticide
- gross neglect of young girls
- entirely preventable maternal death
- the inability of older women to access food and shelter.
According to the United Nations Population Fund Association, between 100 and 125 million females
are missing globally due to Genedercide, ( or femicide.)
- Demographers estimate that 126 million women are missing due to gendercide (also called femicide).
- That is as many deaths as WWI, WWII, and AIDS combined.
- Every year, we lose 2 million baby girls to sex-selective abortion and infanticide. That's 4 girls per minute.
- In China alone, 62 million women are missing. That amounts to 9.5% of its female population.
There is an exhibition in Dallas this week entitled, Artists Respond, in which professional artists contribute to the 100 MILLION ISSING EXHIBIT.
The following descriptions of art are copied from the website http://gengap.org
I have not copied their pictures because I do not have permission.
Death of a Woman from A to Z
At what moment do the eyes portray fear? This was the intent behind my search through twenty-six portraits that create the series, Death of a Woman from A-Z.
It would take many exhibitions and artist talks before I realized that these were self-portraits and my cry for help. I am a survivor of domestic violence; this body of work is a reminder that some secrets should not go untold.
Resilience - Influence
Here you see the shadow of a woman, pausing to admire the beautiful flowers sprouting near her feet. The shadow signifies both good and bad -- the massive loss of life due to gendercide, but also the coming together of women worldwide (in response to this awareness campaign) to protect new blossoming lives from a society that is cruel and ignorant in mindset. The flowers are the lives, born and protected, that will be saved. The black shoes are the awareness campaign that steps in to bring everyone together to impact, empower, and educate. "
I encourage you to attend if possible, or check out their website.
SO LONG by Walt Whitman.
TO conclude—I announce what comes after me;
I announce mightier offspring, orators, days, and then, for the present, depart.
I remember I said, before my leaves sprang at all,
I would raise my voice jocund and strong, with reference to consummations.
When America does what was promis’d,
When there are plentiful athletic bards, inland and seaboard,
When through These States walk a hundred millions of superb persons,
When the rest part away for superb persons, and contribute to them,
When breeds of the most perfect mothers denote America,
Then to me and mine our due fruition.
I have press’d through in my own right,
I have sung the Body and the Soul—War and Peace have I sung,
And the songs of Life and of Birth—and shown that there are many births:
I have offer’d my style to everyone—I have journey’d with confident step;
While my pleasure is yet at the full, I whisper, So long!
And take the young woman’s hand, and the young man’s hand, for the last time.
I announce natural persons to arise;
I announce justice triumphant;
I announce uncompromising liberty and equality;
I announce the justification of candor, and the justification of pride.
I announce that the identity of These States is a single identity only;
I announce the Union more and more compact, indissoluble;
I announce splendors and majesties to make all the previous politics of the earth
Excerpt from SO LONG by Walt Whitman.
Anonymous woman, Womensvoice1
In the words of Adrienne Rich,
"In poetry, words can say more than they mean, and mean more than they say. In a time of frontal assaults both on language and on human solidarity, poetry can remind us of all we are in danger of losing-disturb us, embolden us out of resignation."
I say that is true of all forms of art.
Until next time, have a great week!
And Happy Valentine's day!