Activism through Art

As a pretty enthusiastic person who is committed to social justice and equality, my last package for #ICParkSM inspired me to explore some more activism-related creative movements.

“The arts have a unique capacity to raise awareness, build bigger constituencies for social justice and meet people where they are,” as Gara LaMarche, writer for the Atlantic Philanthropies, said.

Combining activism, art, and many times, social media seems like the the perfect combination of my favorite things. Craftivism is not alone in its hope to raise awareness through creativity. I explored a few of the most popular movements and ideas that have been circulating around the country and the globe.

Global Activism

There are many global issues for which people have used art to raise awareness – there are, of course, straightforward and phenomenal organizations such as Boundless City‘s arts projects that aim to raise awareness for people in poverty in African countries. Others, like the Art and Justice League, aim to help children in developing countries to heal and grow through creative platforms. Organizations such as Amnesty International often team up with bands, theatres and arts organizations to put on events and concerts to raise funds and awareness. Other projects like Humans of New York use photography to learn about the people of the everyday and bring awareness to living conditions.



Feminism and Creativity

The most recent wave of feminism has seized the idea of art as a medium for change. Photography is a major art form that many movements hold onto – Project Unbreakable uses  photographs portraying women holding signs plastered with phrases said to them by attorneys, police officers and other officials after they were sexually abused, to make a strong and heartbreaking statement about rape culture. Other grassroots movements take more lighthearted aspects of equality and spread them around the web – breaking down sexual stigmas with playlists about cunnilingus, music videos exposing the magic of Photoshop and how it influences our perceptions or about gender stereotyping in general (NSFW),  photographic projects about “illusions of the body” (NSFW), and homemade artworks regarding body hair, inclusivity in feminism, body rights, trans*-inclusive feminism, and more.


One of the biggest movements in LGBT+ circles are infographics. A surprising amount of grassroots artworks in the form of informative graphic presentations have been circulating the web, probably due to some of the confusing terms and dynamics in the LGBT+ community, graphics like “The Genderbread Person” or the ABCs of gender and sexuality can help clear up some of the confusion surrounding terms like “cisgender” or “pansexual.” The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in NYC offers a completely queer collection of performances and artworks. Television shows such as Orange is the New Black have built popularity and awareness of the queer community and trans* individuals.

Art uses our simple desire to look and experience interesting things and force the viewer to examine their own values and ideals. Art can be a way of creating and building community and giving people with less privilege a chance to heal and create.

“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”

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