By: Lillian Mejia-G
It might be hard to believe but art can actually play a pivotal role in activism. Artists can express their desire for social change through their work and inspire us to make the world a more kind, loving, and accepting place. Artists who fight against injustice through their art are often called “Artivists.”
One artist in particular whose work really spoke to me is Sara Z.E. Hughes. Hughes works as an AFSC social media specialist. She is also an artist, filmmaker, and cultural worker who strives for social change through her art.
She has had her work displayed in a number of exhibits and has worked with organizations like All of Us or None, which is a grassroots civil and human rights organization that fights for the rights of formerly and/or currently incarcerated people. They are fighting back against the discrimination that people face daily because of arrest or conviction history.
This organization helps give a voice to those who face discrimination because of past convictions which is something I also feel strongly about.
I am also very inspired by feminist activists who fight for gender equality. As a woman, this topic is particularly important to me.
Having to navigate this world as a woman can sometimes be scary and seeing the work of many brilliant female artists speak against injustice is remarkable.
Some female “Artivists” who inspire me are Kiki Smith, Frida Kahlo, Lorna Simpson, and Georgia O’Keeffe. These incredible women never stopped creating art despite all the negativity that was thrown at them because they sometimes painted ideas that were thought to be controversial in their time.
In my research on this topic, I found so many amazing feminist artists of today that inspire me just as much as the wonderful feminist artists of the past!
First is Shani Rhys James. She is an artist who creates still lifes self-portraits, in a very unique style. The subjects of her pieces are often placed in with wild backgrounds and flowers, as well as mirrors and other elements that give them a haunting sinister atmosphere to them.
Her art braves the world of the expectations of society on femininity and domestic life. She takes what feels familiar and turns it into something strange and unsettling.
Caroline Walker is another Artivist whose work I enjoy. Walker is considered to be one of the best painters in Britain. She is a Royal College of Art graduate, and she paints everyday life in realism with beautiful lighting and other details in a very charming pleasing style. Walker paints women who are seen as invisible and not always appreciated in our society.
Women who stay home doing housework, cleaning, cooking, and taking care of the children. Caroline’s art pulls us into her paintings to show us the complexities of traditional ideas of women as the subject for art.
In conclusion, the takeaway is that art is not just something beautiful it can be a powerful and deadly tool against injustice. Art gives us a voice to express our desire for social change, as an artist, I am deeply inspired by everyone who has the courage and bravery to speak out against the discriminatory actions this society has taken against certain groups of people.
Millington, R., 2020. 6 Women At The Forefront Of Feminist Art Today By Ruth Millington. [online] Rise Art.<https://www.riseart.com/article/2020-03-10-art-collections-6-women-at-the-forefront-of-feminist-art-today>
Hughes, S., 2020. Art And Social Change: Five Artists With A Cultural Strategy For Change. [online] at: <https://www.afsc.org/friends/art-and-social-change-five-artists-cultural-strategy-change>
Anewwayoflife.org. 2020. All Of Us Or None Puts Ten CA Counties On Notice Over Unlawful Removal Of PeopleWithFelonyConvictionsFromElectoralRolls: <http://anewwayoflife.org/pressrelease/all-of-us-or-none-puts-ten-california-counties-on-notice-over-unlawful-removal-of-people-with-felony-convictions-from-electoral-rolls/#:~:text=About%20All%20of%20Us%20or,of%20arrest%20or%20conviction%20history.>
Google Arts & Culture. 2020. The Feminist Artists Whose Work You Need To Know – Google Arts & Culture.[online]Availableat: <https://artsandculture.google.com/theme/the-feminist-artists-whose-work-you-need-to-know/IQISUC6SwwhEKw?hl=en>