The world can be a hard place to live in because there are countless issues that need to be fixed.
However, art changes everything.
We are constantly berated by societal issues. Many of us want to be part of a group, make a difference, or change the world and the question arises: how can we make ourselves heard?
|© Fabrice Monteiro|
Whatever your cause: Whether you are pushing for no abortions or gunning for the right to bear firearms, supporting environmentalism or trying to eliminate inequality, art can be an effective tool to get your message across to the masses.
Good activism defined
- Raises questions/issues and provokes thought - not dogmatic
Activism is most effective when it causes people to question their beliefs and rethink what is right in the world. Preventing dogma is incredibly important for successful activism. Art helps provoke people into thinking more deeply about life. Each work of art is unique and gives everyone an angle they can use to help a cause.
- Elicits emotion
- Art creates emotions that words sometimes cannot. It appeals to all of the senses and immerses the viewer into it. This emotional connection is crucial when promoting a cause. Emotions keep people involved, and art keeps people emotional.
- Memorable, carry it with you
- Art can be tangible, or it can be something that exists in your memories. Either way, you carry it with you. It can inspire you to share it on social media, discuss it with others, or even create art yourself. Art can carry activism farther than it could go on its own.
- Provocative (makes you want to do something)
- Effective art activism leaves people with a fire. This fire burns until it causes them to try and put it out by going out in their community and making a change. Art can change people’s intentions.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then why can’t a picture spark a revolution against human trafficking? The answer is that it can. Photography personally connects audiences to issues that need to be addressed in the world today. It can show people injustices that are happening and invite them to step in. Human trafficking happens too often. Photography has been used to protest selling people as objects and this has brought increased awareness to human trafficking. The more people know about human trafficking, the more that they can see and intervene when they see possible human trafficking incidences. Photography makes activism more effective.
When I say “slam poetry,” you might think of a seventh grade event your teacher made you do. Ever considered it could be a way to change the way people think and therefore act? Poetry as an art form has been used to influence society for centuries. For example, in John Milton’s 17th century Paradise Lost, he sets out to “justify the ways of God to man,” or to explain why God does the things He does and why the world is the way it is, full of suffering and injustice. Likewise in the twenty first century, performance-enhanced slam poetry is an excellent way to raise questions about why the world or society are they way they are, as well as to propose answers for a willing audience to consider.
The best kind of activism asks questions, leaves each hearer or reader questioning, wanting to know more, and has an emotional impact. That’s exactly what theatre does and its emotional impact is one of empathy and compassion. Even done by artists, like me, with very clear opinions it is performed in a space where a group of people will have to respond to those ideas both with their companions, as a collective group, and at home when they think about what they have experienced. And hopefully they experienced empathy. Activist theatre asks people in a community to look at their lives and the lives of others different from them in a new light, think honestly about the issues, and then ask "What can I do?"
Digital media empowers theatre makers, collaborators, and audiences both live and on social media platforms by amplifying human experiences of empathy on a global level. Local issues are brought to the world where our digital culture allows us to experience them and empowers us to do something. We get to identify with others often very different from us because they become part of our intimate world.
About the authors
Claire is a Chinese major at Brigham Young University. Chinese and China are both things she obsesses about so she will be going on a study abroad to China in the fall. She is from Colorado and has lived in Utah for about 6 years. An interesting fact about Claire is that she has never broken a bone. She loves experiencing other cultures and also enjoys photography. She can often be found reading a book or sleeping. You can get to her personal blog post here.
Kimball is an open major at Brigham Young University considering studying linguistics, Spanish, and maybe even computer science. He is from a small town in Southern Utah called Gunlock where he enjoys cattle drives with the family and wrestling with his brothers and nephews. On the daily he can be found dancing, listening to Spanish/Latin music, eating a variety of grains, fruits, vegetables and meats. You can find his personal blog post here.
Chandra is a playwright, singer, and actor who wants to make the world better. Brigham Young University with be producing a play she wrote, happysadness, in February 2017. She plans on attending graduate school, likely for an MFA in playwriting. Chandra loves to travel, experience new people and cultures, and read as much as she can. After living in Italy for more than a year she dreams almost daily about going back. Her dog is her best friend and no matter how many times the guy at Jimmy John’s asks if she “wants bacon on that,” she is happy to be a vegetarian, and she will continue to recycle, by fair trade goods as often as possible, and shop at health food stores, no matter how many times she gets called a granola. Her blog post can be read here.