Art is a very strong and effective tool. Art in itself may not change the world. However, what it will do is inspire the people who see it. Words are our primary way of communicating, but sometimes words fail. Hearing about human rights, like sex trafficking and child labor, is not the same as experiencing it or seeing it in front of your eyes. Most people are visual learners and thinkers and sometimes, you need to see in front of you to believe it. Visually stunning images capture people’s minds and get them talking. They start to talk about the image.
At the Newark Museum, I saw a piece using street art to send a message. It was a mural and it featured the contrasting views of the city as an urban dump and a city full of potential. It depicted the struggles of minorities. It showed the struggles of growing up in the inner city. The dreams that some children have and the trouble they can get into. It was also somehow able to portray hope and a bright future despite all the current hardships. All this was in one mural. No one could agree on exactly what it was portraying, but we knew it made an impact on us. Why did the image hurt us, inspire us, move us, or bring us joy? It got us talking as to what message the artists were sending. It got us talking about what problems we saw depicted in the mural and how we could fix them.
The first step to changing something is always conversation. You have to start talking, to start planning, so you can start doing. Art can incite conversation and when the image is powerful, the conversation will be powerful, plans for change will be powerful, and the action will certainly be powerful as well.
Many people do not know that art can make a powerful impact on people. However, more and more people are starting to realize this. I have noticed more politically driven street art around the city. I am seeing less and less lewd images and more thought provoking images, less signs proclaiming a block to one gang or the other and more signs expressing frustration in our current society.
Art and Resistance Through Education (ARTE) came to speak at a club in my school and many did not know they could use their art skills to advocate for whatever topic they feel strongly about. It was refreshing to see when they did discover that they could. I have heard them say that we could use to advocate for education in our community or using art to raise awareness for girls’ rights. Overall, the effect art has on people is undeniable.
The photos come courtesy of http://animalez.org/proyecto-waterwrites-bogota. Please check out the website for more info on the project and artists.
Laissa Christelle Alexis is a high school student at Saint Vincent Academy in Newark, New Jersey. She is involved in tons of school clubs and activities including her school’s Literary Magazine. She is part of the Newark Museum Science Explorer program for high school students. In her free time, she loves to read, sew and write on her blog, Build Your Castles in the Sky.