If this year has taught us anything, it’s that the only way things change is if we get involved. This election season has been incredible to watch unfold for a million different reasons, but mostly how so many of us banded together to get out there and make our voices heard, and speak for those who can’t. Creativity and activism are actually more dependent on each other than you might realize.
The intersection of creativity and activism are two fields defined by a shared focus of creating engagement that shifts boundaries, changes relationships and creates new paradigms. This experimentation also forms the essence of what can be the engine of success and motivation toward true change, no matter what we’re stomping for. The practice of understanding the importance of our own creative energy is a source of change on its own, and a space where valuable insight can be found through reflection and community.
I believe the inclusion of creative people is integral to developing other “best practices” when it comes to activism, due to their ability to communicate the potential for expression and personal enrichment within alternatives. Take creatives on social media for example. TikTok users address climate change by recontextualizing well-known popular music to comment upon melting ice caps, wildfires, rising global temperatures and other effects of climate change. Even if you aren’t a “conventional” artist, you have to admit that’s a pretty damn clever and creative way to use your platform.
With the influence of social media, anyone can post a form of creative activism — paintings, writings, photography, etc. Everyone has equal visibility to share their own message. If you define art narrowly, as something created by sanctioned artists and primarily experienced in galleries, museums and concert halls, then we limit the power that creativity has on activism. However, if we define the term more broadly to include all creative expression – music, movement, visualization, content creation – then art is the foundation of activism and change.
Activism art is creative works, which arouse important emotions in people, and in return, may increase the climate of tension and create new opportunities to dissent. As art takes lesser financial resources, more people — even if they aren’t professionals— can participate and do their part for the ongoing cause at hand.
Activism is often approached with attitudes that are problematic and ineffective, but a creativity-based approach is a positive alternative because it stimulates empathy. And if we want to achieve any social, racial, economic or environmental justice, we have to have empathy at the core. Add in some creativity and innovative thinking and you’re on your way to impactful change.