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 create social change by staging actions that engage people and make them think--and talk. “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

    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 himself has never been to Alcatraz. He designed and directed an installation on Alcatraz 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: K-13+
  • Tania Bruguera: Activist Art | Art in the 21st Century: "Legacy"

    How can art explore activism and social justice? Cuban Artist Tania Bruguera uses performance art, traditional dance and installation art to encourage people to speak out and question society. She is particularly interested in the outcome of the Cuban Revolution, and she describes the responses to her art in her native country. Learn more about Bruguera's techniques, as well as her attitude toward political discourse and free speech.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Thomas Hirschorn: Community Art | Art in the 21st Century: "Investigation"

    Find out how artist Thomas Hirschorn uses sculpture and installation art to help communities explore political discontent. Hirschorn installs temporary art works that grow as people interact with them. In this segment you will see how the artist uses mundane materials to create a monument to the philosopher Antonio Gramsci. Hirschorn mixes performance art, theater, and sculpture to build a narrative around the community's hopes and fears.

    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