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Using art to take ideas forward

Using art to take ideas forward

Spreading the message

In the final part of our series on using art for activism, five young artivists tell Leading Change how they promote their art to create conversations and empathy.

Amelia Kami recently wrote a song for an anti-logging campaign in Papua New Guinea that speaks about the importance of unity and people’s power. She hopes that by sharing the music, more people will be encouraged people to re-evaluate their actions.

Wang Junyong says the beauty of having a successful campaign is the ability to share the message. According to him, “It is important to share your passion with people. Don’t keep it to yourself.

So how do you do that?

Walk On Walk Strong Tonga taking their message out onto the road

Walk On Walk Strong Tonga taking their message out on the road

Social media

Art as a tool for activism can become action when it is placed or done on a platform that creates conversation. 

“Social media is a very powerful platform for artists to showcase their art. It helps to boost and expose the artist’s work at home and abroad,” says Arinze Stanley Egbengwu. 

“If you look at the profile of lot of artists, you will see a trend of young artists using social media to showcase or talk about something and to promote their work.”

He adds, “Back in the day, artists worked solely in their studio. They were not really exposed. “Now, social media has given them the choice to relate with the larger society.”

Like Arinze, Abrahim Simmonds is a visual artist. With the help of friends and hashtags, he has been able to use his art to advocate for and inspire change through online campaigns.

“When I post an advocacy message using art, I encourage my friends to share it on their social media platforms, so that they can also share it with their network of friends,” he explains. 

“With that, I am able to create a chain of reaction that can help other people interact. Before you know it, everyone is sharing that message and creating awareness about that issue.”

And the result?

“I have seen my work educate more people and start conversations for a social change.”

Graphic with caption: Fill yourself up with positivity!

Creating dialogue

Katlego Kai Kolanyane-Kesupile tackles issues of sexual orientation and gender identity in Botswana. She uses her art to undo the dehumanisation of Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI) people. 

Speaking on her work as an LGBT artivist, Katlego says a lot of her work is first of its kind. “We are creating an archive, a heritage space for future artistic practitioners that are interested in the very same issue. In doing this, they will know that work has been done in that space before.”

Katlego believes the power of successfully getting the desired message to the public for action lies in creating a socially-responsible community dialogue from a local context.

“It is in the power of giving a face to something that hasn’t probably been given a representation from a local space. The success lies in ensuring that community members are able to see themself reflected in the art and not a reflection of what is produced or consumed by the west or by any other market that is not us. The more people can see themselves in a work of art, the more impact you will get with your message.”

Connecting

Arinze’s purpose for drawing is to create empathy in the mind of people. His drawings are created to connect and resonate with people around the world, regardless of their race, tribe or religion. In the past, he has used his art to talk about race, gender inequality, marginalisation of black women in the society and modern slavery. His new art series, Mirrors, is focused on ‘shoe shifting’ and redefining the importance of empathy from the perspective of different artists across the world.

Arinze Stanley Egbengwu with his art

Arinze Stanley Egbengwu with his art

“I feel there isn’t enough of that empathy in the world. Through this series, I intend to build a connecting bridge between races and demonstrate the importance of shoe-shifting as a tool for eliminating racial inequality. This project will connect all races together with the basic understanding of oneness.”

Katlego Kai Kolanyane-Kesupile

“There is an overlap between art and activism because they are both driven by something personal. It comes from a place of saying the truth from a personal perspective – to empower people."

Katlego Kai Kolanyane-Kesupile

In the first of this series on Using art to lead change, five young artists tell Leading Change why and how they started using their creativity in activism to become 'artivists'.

Amelia Kami

“Music gives you a platform to make a difference. When you link your art to activism, it just creates this dynamic duo.”

Amelia Kami

In the second of our series on art and changemaking, five young artivists tell Leading Change about their processes, responsibilities and the importance of inclusion and collaboration.

Motion of red food colour. Image credit: Gorobei

“The creative community of artist are like dye in water. When you put a drop of dye in the water it diffuses throughout the water. The same way, your single impact, no matter how small it is, can cause a large ripple effect."

Abrahim Simmonds

In the third part of our series on artivism, five young leaders from across the Commonwealth tell Leading Change about the challenges of using art for activism.