Sticky: 1st Art Gallery On the Continued Role of Artistic Expression as Protest Against Social Injustice
For every major movement against any example of social injustice, there tends to be a powerful image that immediately comes to mind as associated with a specific cause. In protest of the atrocities committed during the Spanish Civil War, for example, Pablo Picasso painted “Guernica,” a moving and beautiful mural that served as a plea against the inherent ugliness of war and sought to raise much-needed funds for the war relief effort.
In the contemporary era, artistic expression continues to serve a critical role in social justice. The Syrian refugee crisis has been highlighted by emotional photography demonstrating the reality of the consequences of war as experienced by innocent people, including children. Graffiti artists have also made contributions as well, with artists such as Banksy and many others drawing attention to the gradual creeping of conditions associated with a police state.
It has always been the case that art has been instrumental in helping achieve goals associated with social justice. In an age dominated by social media and the global interconnectedness made possible by these digital platforms, powerful artistic imagery is more influential than ever. Those who wish to address any social justice issue or are seeking to draw attention to any instance in which an injustice has occurred can immediately turn to the visual arts as yet another means for informing those who would otherwise be unaware of the existence of the issue in question.
As a result, artistic endeavors in the visual arts have never been more accessible, and it is almost hard to believe that it was once the case that a talented artist could not function without the support of a wealthy patron due to the costs associated with materials. Paints are not nearly as expensive as they once were — nor are they as toxic as they once were — and, for those who are technologically inclined, Photoshop and other digital art forms make it possible for just about anyone to quickly and easily create a powerful image or symbol in support of any cause worthy of greater attention.
The technological advances made during this century have made it possible for any artist to share a critical message quickly and easily through digital platforms and social media. While Picasso’s work drew worldwide attention to the need for funds aimed at war relief, it required a touring exhibition before it began to achieve its intended result.
With the technology of today, Picasso could have snapped a photo of “Guernica” and shared it on several different digital platforms to reach a worldwide audience in a matter of minutes. Contemporary artists have thankfully recognized this potential and have achieved a great deal of good by seeking social justice through the use of their artistic talents and the reach of their digital platforms.