artful movements for social change how art can provoke social change and inspire action

haley mckay


the combination of art and social change is one that is not only powerful but also essential, especially within a society that is becoming increasingly focused on visual stimulation and the art of revolution


"the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power." (Oxford Dictionary)

  • emotions and art
  • emotions and social movements
  • the power of both in harmony
  • social media comes into the picture
  • examples in Latin America
  • awareness to action

emotions and art

1970s and David Berlyne and the emotional responses to art
  • certain variables of art modify human arousal
  • collective variables of art=complexity, novelty, uncertainty, and conflict (Silvia, 2005)
new focus on emotions and art involves how those variable affect human interest and enjoyment (Silvia, 2005)
  • emotions are more than just states of high arousal...they are seen and appreciated as evolved, psychological tools for dealing with everyday aspects of life (Silvia, 2005)

emotions and social change

emotions are a necessary companion of social action because they supply motivation and action (Jasper, 1998)

two aspects of emotions:
  • emotions that arose before joining a social action
  • the emotions that arose within the collective action of the social action itself (Jasper, 1998)
individual identities

emotions are a part of our identities and interests

more permanent emotions occur when a person identifies with a group and becomes loyal to them

collective identities

the collective nature of humans makes for an accessible way through which emotions and expression can be fostered and put into action

without emotional responses, there would be no such thing as social movements (Jasper, 1998)

emotions are tied to beliefs and moral values, which both have the ability to be altered by collective persuasion, which is found within social movements

balancing individual identity and collective identity is important to the success of a social movement (Polletta and Jasper, 2001)

combining the power

Combining the influence of those emotions evoked by art and those evoked with social movements is a powerful combination that can be fostered to create a more impactful effect on society

past movements

before the late 2000s, most LGBTQ+ social movements were not very well organized; they struggled to find resources, and they lacked a connection that penetrated social class lines (Corrales, 2015)

21st century came around and this changed because the movements were able to network with other, bigger movements

using art as a way to connection several different movements and their resources

artful movements & the media

  • can't talk social movements without social media
  • art, emotions, and movements can be combined easily with social media
  • social media=speed boost or speed bump?

Small change: Why the Revolution will not be Tweeted

-Malcolm Gladwell

  • different ways to create different identities (@ example)
  • spreading up-to-date information easily and quickly
  • the access to information that is created through the portals of social media can provide access to conversation (Joseph, 2012, p. 155)
  • conversation can spark action
  • "slacktivism" - able to share and like something withouthaving to actually "help"
  • awareness can only do so much
  • what do posts and likes actually do?
  • connection not as strong, less personal responsibility
balancing act
  • social media creates inaction
  • social media creates action
  • social movements produce collective goods and it can be hard to motivate an individual to work on their own to obtain those goods outside of the movement (McCarthy, 1977)
I mention this because art, if shared responsibly, can help raise both awareness and instigate action...

examples in Latin America

posters for tomorrow
san josé street art

awareness to action

emotions create art creates dialogue creates awareness creates action creates change

"My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together."

-Desmond Tutu

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