Humans have been drawn to the desire to create for thousands of years – literally. The earliest record of artistic expression dates back to the Stone Age, over 40,000 years ago.
We’ve come a long way since that primitive rock art. From oil paintings and performance pieces, the spoken word, digital NFTs, sculptures, and cinema, art reaches and influences every corner of our existence.
Throughout time we’ve looked to art – and the artists themselves – to help us make sense of the world around us; they provide an outlet to break down complex issues like race, religion, and politics.
“Artists play one of the most important roles in our society. They can reshape our world into a better place, where once again, freedom of thought and real communication can be disseminated through art and the universal language of realism. With diligence and effort, a picture is once again worth a thousand words, versus needing a thousand words to explain it.”
– Kara Lysandra Ross, Chief Operating Officer of the Art Renewal Center.
Artists are far more than makers of beautiful (and sometimes not so beautiful) things. They are the mouthpieces of something larger.
- They are Jean-Michel Basquiat, whose street art shed light on the widening gap between wealth and poverty.
- They are Helen Chadwick, who used raw meat as a medium to call out the idea that women are nothing more than a consumable product.
- They are Aaron Douglas, who used illustrations and public murals to celebrate the African-American experience and call attention to racism and segregation.
- They are Adrian Piper, who uses her art form to raise uncomfortable questions about racial politics and identity.
- They are Gordon Parks, a photographer known for documenting the African American experience of racism and poverty.
It would be impossible to measure artists’ impact on society. We just know that the world would be a darker, more confusing, and less honest space without them.
We encourage you to keep that in mind the next time you have an opportunity to support a local artist; you’re not only helping them but the broader message they represent.