Trail: Art and/in activism by Erin James

This trail explores the theme and intersection of art and activism. Art holds more power than most give it credit for, and visuals can speak more than words often ever could. This is particularly evident in this series of exhibitions.

The ability to spark interest, change and even a shift of views through multiple artistic and creative practices has become very apparent. From photography at recent Black Lives Matter protests to the ongoing call for action against climate change, art has become an accessible way for creatives to express their views, frustrations, and eagerness for change through whatever lens they know best.

Activism takes on many different forms; there is no one picture or definition of it. These exhibitions deconstruct previously held narratives that activism has to be loud – protests on the streets or burning down buildings – it can be as simple as photographing and empowering an under-represented group.

The need for change in all sectors has grown increasingly apparent, and these exhibitions are a perfect example of creatives from many different backgrounds all lending their voices, art, and stories to issues they care about. Not only is this a moving and powerful thing, but it is also, in my opinion, literally helping to change the world. If every person strived to make a small amount of change, within their own community or social issue close to them, I truly believe the world would look like a different, more inclusive, and representative place.

This theme is particularly visible in the exhibition ‘How Do You See Colour’ by Photo Voice and SEAS, In this exhibition, ‘the artists have come together to craft an event that explores themes on colourism, self-growth, racism, and isolation.’. This is a powerful and tangible example of art and activism — how young Black folks have come together to draw emphasis on their shared experiences as people of colour in what is, and always has been, a difficult time.

Being able to document these lived experiences and combine forces to share and curate an exhibition has the potential to evoke real emotion from viewers. An emotion that could spark change. This, I believe, is the new, and most powerful wave of art we are seeing in modern society.