It is not enough to be compassionate, we must act.
~ Dalai Lama XIV
Art is courageous. Artists act, they challenge, and they trigger positive change. Social justice arts pedagogy has always been an essential educational building block for a stable, happy and fair society. Our innovative arts education pillars ~ WELLBEING, CULTURE, TRADITIONS+HERITAGE and STEAM ~ are premised on the tenets of SOCIAL JUSTICE. A child cannot be introduced to strategies that improve wellbeing if unfairly disadvantaged. Recognizing, and addressing social injustices are core to cultivating cultural competence. STEAM was originally created to address gender inequity in the job market by boosting interdisciplinary creativity.
Arts For Social Change
STATE of the ART: A Report on Art for Social Change (ASC) in Canada 2016
In the context of the Arts for SC! Project art for social change (ASC) is defined as art that is created collectively by groups of people (who may not self-identify as artists) about what matters to them, with this process facilitated by an artist or group of artists. Designed to engage heads, hearts, and hands to create dialogue and positive change, ASC is rooted in furthering social, environmental, and political justice and is a form of cultural democracy. Read full report.
Arts Program That Support Social Justice
Words Count! A Social Justice – Wellbeing project at William Burgess ~ artist Charmaine Lurch ~ PHOTO Katharine Fleitas
Although social justice is a commonly used term, the component issues are complex and intersecting. Such issues include race, gender, sexual orientation, age, ability, ethnicity, religion, belief, poverty, wealth distribution, social class, inclusion, location or political affiliation.
Poor planetary conditions acerbate poverty and injustice, making eco-justice a social justice issue.
We are all citizens of this world and environmental stewards of our planet.
Arts educators are brilliant first responders to social justice needs. They stand at the crossroads of art, education, and pertinent social commentary. Artistic processes overcome language barriers, provide differentiated tasks, and serve multiple intelligences. Through these arts programs, young students are engaged in inquiry-based learning about justice during optimal developmental years. Certain art projects, such as those related to Black History, help celebrate important social progress, as well recognize injustices that persist.
Several Social Justice issues such as poverty and climate change are multifaceted problems, with many intersecting causes. Identifying solutions can seem overwhelming. Problems that are contextualized and illustrated in various arts/graphic media allow students and educators to contemplate the scope of problems without becoming as overwhelmed. Hans Rosling’s brilliantly animated social justice statistics provide a perfect example. Students can then begin to identify multiple possible solutions and take action through the arts process and in other ways.
Social Justice art is a genre in its own right, as illustrated by countless examples. In recent history Diego Riviera called attention to socioeconomic issues and worker exploitation in his stunning murals; the magnitude of the AIDS Memorial Quilt signifies the impact of the crisis, and Christo and Jean-Claude wrapped up large bits of our planet to symbolize environmental protection, spark furious controversies and make the world take notice.
Marit Dewhurst, an authority on art and social justice pedagogy says that artists learn and teach about social issues simultaneously. Activist-Artists who design social justice programs, therefore, are encouraged to:
- Update and take regular measure of our own social justice knowledge
- Create adequate contexts for student inquiry, because no social justice issue can be discussed from a single perspective
- Be aware of exemplary work by contemporary artists and educators in the field
- Understand the connections between social justice, STEAM, cultural competence and wellbeing.
We are with you all the way and wish you all the best in your arts practice in today’s classroom!