Art serves many purposes for both the artist and the patron. It can be meditative and reflective, initiating deep thought and introspection. It can be poetic and emotional, eliciting strong reactions or feelings. It can be accusatory and defiant, challenging social norms and political activities. And in today’s political climate, where messages can be difficult to get across, art and activism inspires us – openly commenting where some fear to take a stand and pushing us outside of our comfort zone. Some of our favorite examples of how artists are using their platform to create change are:
BP or not BP? Is a series of environmental art activism against the oil company, BP’s, sponsorship of the British Museum, and the demand that the Museum divest from fossil fuels. The artists describe it as an effort to highlight the “links between climate change, fossil fuel extraction, colonialism, human rights abuses and workers’ rights, using the museum as a backdrop for calls for justice and decolonisation and reimagining what a truly enlightened, responsible and engaged British Museum could look like.”
Free the Vaccine is a global movement to ensure publicly-funded diagnostic tools, treatment, and the COVID-19 vaccine will be sustainably priced, available to all and free at the point-of-delivery. One of their lighter pieces is the lip-sync challenge to an updated lyric version of Dolly Parton’s Jolene.
The Guerrilla Girls are feminist activist artists that wear gorilla masks in public and use facts, humor and outrageous visuals to expose gender and ethnic bias as well as corruption in politics, art, film, and pop culture. Their pieces challenging the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s lack of female artist inclusion is both catchy and compelling.
A recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship, Kara Walker’s art highlights the legacy of slavery and themes of race, sexuality, violence, and subjugation. While she is most known for her paper silhouettes, her 2014 installation at the Domino Sugar Factory, Subtlety, is stunning in its presentation and how it draws the viewer into the historical undertones of slavery and sugar cane.
Favianna Rodriguez is an interdisciplinary artist, cultural strategist, and social justice activist based in Oakland, California. Her art and praxis address migration, gender justice, climate change, racial equity, and sexual freedom. Her practice boldly reshapes the myths, stories, and cultural practices of the present, while healing from the wounds of the past. Her work has had a number of forums, but sweetly landed on the packaging of Ben & Jerry’s Pecan Resist pint.
Sign up here to receive the highlights from the Starfish Impact blog in your inbox.