An artist I know recently made a post on Facebook denouncing a video that exploits feminine sexuality, specifically, the sexuality of lesbians. She posted the video and suggested that as an artist she did not want to talk about this particular issue but she felt that she must raise the issue, that she had a responsibility to do so.
Now, I will be honest, if I had seen this video without seeing her comments I don’t think I would have necessarily questioned it’s contents because her perspective is not always my own frame of reference. However, after seeing her post and seeing the video, I changed my mind and was able to see her point of view. I am glad she shared her thoughts on an issue that was important to her and that she educated me and raised my awareness and sensitivity to this particular issue. I respect what she has to say as an artist and just as a person.
This whole interchange got me thinking very broadly about art, artists and social responsibility. I do not believe that ALL art has the ability to evoke social change. You may disagree. But I do believe, however, that all artists have the ability to change people’s minds whether through their work or through simply voicing an opinion or taking a stance on a particular issue. And I would go so far as to say that ultimately artists also have an inherent obligation to create change be it social or cultural.
Does that mean picketing at the local Occupy rally or signing up to do a documentary piece on Green Peace or just simply creating work that goes just a little bit beyond the sublime?? It can mean some or all of these things. It’s undoubtedly a personal thing as to the “how”.
But whatever the medium, as an artist you are doing something that many people wish they could do – that is to say everyone wants the ability, the freedom, to what is meaningful to them. Bob Dylan once said, “I think of a hero as someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with his freedom.”
What do you think?? I’d love to hear your thoughts.