However, there is sound evidence throughout history, that art can penetrate the social conscience better than any other medium of education or indoctrination. Artists have been exiled, killed or expelled from institutions for their often rebellious messages, or anti-establishmentarianism.
Art, including poetry, fine art, theatre, photography, and music can help one visualize, and engage the brain, to actively participate in the message it defines. It can help the audience identify with the victim, or perpetrator, or satirize patterns and attitudes of a culture.
In writings as early as Ecclesiastes 3, we find wisdom, and profound teachings expressed in the form of poetry.
Verse 1. To everything, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.
Verse 2. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
Verse 7. A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.
We see satire and social comment in renaissance paintings.
For example, Botticelli painted Venus and Mars in 1483.
Mars is in a deep sleep, while the Satyrs mischievously play with his armor to amuse themselves. They playfully blow in his ear through a seashell, and wear his helmet, while the Goddess of Love stares at him in his sleep. She seems smug in the knowledge that her sexual prowess has overcome his taste for war.
The contemporary street artist, Banksey, practices guerrilla graffiti as a form of social comment.
Soap operas and Standup Comedy inspire, provoke and comment , pushing boundaries, and confronting authority.
Culture and religious dogma act as a form of resistance to social commentary.
Governments, especially those with strict doctrines, such as communist China, Russia, and Iran have expelled artists such as Shrin Nashat, ( an Iranian female Artist in exile,) for exposing the vulnerable belly of Truth
Mallika Sarabhai, a civil rights activist from India, is a pioneer of using dance and theatre for social change.
She is a great advocate of Art's power to challenge social injustice and achieve change through theatre, touching on issues such as rape, water sanitation, and the escalation of violence in society.
She points out that Art should be an integral part of the process of Science, Economy, Education, in order that our vision be broken down, and we can see things in new and innovative ways.
Mallika recently said, during a TED talk,
"If we think we can all agree that we need a better world, a more just world, why is it that we are not using the one language that has consistently showed us that we can break down barriers, that can can reach people? What I need to say to the planners of the world, the governments, the strategists is, ‘You have treated the arts as the cherry on the cake. It needs to be the yeast. "
This could be the subject of a whole thesis.
I am just summarizing today for my blog, and will continue this subject in my next blog installement.
But clearly, this is a subject that could be explored in great depth, with many more examples than I have included here.
I would like to invite readers to comment and contribute to this blog entry, suggesting artists, poets, or writers, who in their opinion have contributed to positive social change.
I would love to embrace new guest blog contributors, or just a paragraph or two to add depth to this subject.
I close with a picture by me of a dancing Goddess, entitled "Dance to change the world."
The clay Goddess is the work of Betsy Doan, a local Dallas artist of Mud Puppy studios.
She produces dancing Goddesses for the garden or the wall . Her contact information is