Art and Social Justice

Many artists create work that intersects with political activism and social justice causes. Throughout history, art has been used as an accessible tool for communication, raising awareness about social issues and affecting positive change. This video collection will introduce students to artists who create work that inspires dialogue about problems faced by communities around the world, and will provide inspiration for classroom projects with a social, public or political purpose.

  • Social Practice Art: Engaging Community Through Art | KQED Arts

    Social practice art can look like just about anything: journalism, community organizing, even a shop. The goal is to engage the audience and help people think about social issues in new ways. “For me,” says social-practice artist and professor Stephanie Syjuco, “the best social practice projects actually try to attract people to join a conversation.”

    Two artists, Chris Treggiari and Chris Johnson, recently went into the streets of Oakland to record conversations and make art.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Printmaking with Favianna Rodriguez | KQED Art School

    Visual artist Favianna Rodriguez has become a national figure in the fight for immigration reform. Visit her West Oakland studio and listen in as she talks about her mix of art and activism. Rodriguez then guides us through two printing processes central to her work: linocuts and monotypes.

    Check out the entire collection of KQED Art School videos!

    Grades: 6-12
  • Multimedia Performance with Lenora Lee

    In this episode of Art School, tag along as Lenora and her dancers prepare for a series of performances at Asia Society in New York City. Hear about the genesis of her current multimedia performances and the impact the local Chinese community has had on her artistic practice. Then follow Lenora Lee as she leads you through some of the choreography from her performance The Escape. She developed this series of movements in collaboration with her dancers.

    Check out the entire collection of KQED Art School videos!

    Grades: 7-13+
  • Ai Weiwei Project on Alcatraz Creates Dialogue about Prison System | KQED Arts

    Because Chinese authorities confiscated his passport after imprisoning him in 2011, activist and artist Ai Weiwei designed and directed an installation on Alcatraz all the way from Beijing. Tour the exhibit and examine the issues raised by this unusual combination of artist and setting.  Update- Weiwei's passport was returned July 2015.



    Grades: 6-12
  • Music for Social Justice with Aisha Fukushima

    In these Art School videos, meet "Raptivist" Aisha Fukushima, who creates music that promotes social justice and travels the world, collaborating with a global network of hip hop artists. Artist Aisha Fukushima then demonstrates basic stomp rhythms, showing how she integrates that style of percussion with her vocals to create a spoken word performance.

    Check out the entire collection of KQED Art School videos!

    Grades: 6-12
  • Art + Activism with Sanaz Mazinani | KQED Art School

    Sanaz Mazinani is an artist with a background in political activism who uses art to inspire dialogue about perceptions of cultural identity. In the latest episode of Art School, she describes her current art practice. Using online media focusing on world news and pop culture as her source material, she creates symmetrical photo collages and videos that abstract familiar images and invite viewers to reconsider visual culture and its meaning and influence on public opinion and social justice.

    In the second video Mazinani expands on the intention of traditional of Islamic ornamentation. Check out the entire collection of KQED Art School videos!

    Grades: 6-12
  • Printmaking for a Social Movement

    Explore political printmaking that inspires, organizes and illustrates a social movement with Oakland-based graphic arts collaboration Dignidad Rebelde. For 10 years, Dignidad Rebelde has been mixing colorful ink with political messages addressing workers’ rights, ICE deportations, environmental threats to indigenous people’s land and more. Dignidad Rebelde teaches political printmaking skills to others, creating platforms for artists and activists to share their own messages in screen printed multiples.

    Grades: 6-12
  • The Lowdown | Politics by Design: The Art of Political Logos Lesson Plan

    Logos haven’t always been used by political candidates or parties, but their use and presence has grown significantly in the last several decades. As candidates seek to stand out from one another in the election process and draw people to their campaigns, the logo has become a growing part of the candidate’s visual identity and brand. This lesson seeks to provide insight into the history and use of symbols and logos in the American political system, and how modern graphic designers play an ever expanding role in building the image of a politician or political party. 

    Grades: 6-13+
  • Five Steps to Make Your Own Political Art | KQED Art School

    For hundreds of years, artists have used their work to spread messages about important issues. Eye-catching artworks can help start a dialogue about social justice, as well as raise awareness for political candidates, activists, and others who see room for improvement in their community and beyond. Our newest video details a formula for making political art in five easy steps by offering examples of successful projects from high profile artists Banksy, Corita Kent, Emory Douglas, Ai Wei Wei, Shepard Fairey and Barbara Kruger. Boldness, accessibility, visibility and reproducibility are just a few of the qualities that help make political art stand out and reach new audiences. Follow these five steps to create your own political art, and let your work shout a message from the rooftops! Share your ideas and artwork online and tag us @KQEDArtSchool on Twitter.

    Grades: 6-12