Art and social change exist hand in hand. Though a broad subject to discuss, in essence social change is one of the driving forces that influence artists and the art they produce. Expressions in modern art, even in architecture, have all been subject to social change. In the opposite side of the spectrum, art in itself can affect or effect social change in that it can open the eyes of society and instill a great need for improvement.
Dictators or harsh political transitions often target art and artists along with their political opponents. This is because expressions of freedom in any form of art can add fuel to the fire of revolt and mutiny.
But what is social change exactly?
Social change is the change in the order of society. It can be brought about either by political influence, oppression or even conflict. For as long as it impacts the community, social change is bound to happen. Imagine a river which is ever flowing. As time goes by, this river will generally flow in the same direction but the curvature will eventually change. Some river banks will ebb while some will gain ground. This is the same for society moving in a general direction but small transitions happen in between.
How does art affect social change?
Art is one of the gauges to know which direction progress is moving. Though not all art is quickly accepted by mainstream society, it is nevertheless an expression of the human condition. Hunger, war or human conflict expressed in any form of art is more than enough to effect social change even in the most smallest of communities.
This expression of emotions ignites feelings which when put into dialogue and motion becomes an active effect of art affecting social change. Artists are those few people who have a need to express themselves. They are neither afraid nor hindered by the political climate even if means that certain powerful elements would be constantly harassing them. An artist’s need to express himself becomes ever more urgent once he feels that his artistic freedom is in danger.
The tighter the noose the oppressors tie around their necks, the louder their music play, the bigger and bolder the murals become and even the dance becomes ever more ferocious. This all becomes intertwined adding more fuel to the fire.
In the reverse side of things, art can be influenced by social change as well. The change in times, the signs of progress or the introduction of new methods in government can bring about songs of hope, beautiful painting s and even stone busts of leaders immortalized in bronze or steel.
Art and social change are complementary to each other. One is the heart, the other is the lungs. They both breathe life into the world. One can tell the trends of the times by just simply looking out the window and seeing the art before their very eyes. Or, march down to their local pub and savor the beats of the music. It is this simple to appreciate art and be in the know of changes in society.