Art is used to address a multitude of topics and issues in our world. These topics are vast yet complex and it takes many different art forms to express each topic – of which are often controversial. Historically, painting and poetry among other art forms incorporated nature into art, primarily as a way to record their environment and things of importance to them at the time. During the Renaissance, the perspective of simply recording nature changed to studying nature and shaping it into man’s ideal. This tied in with the Industrial Revolution, greatly damaging the Earth and changing the world. During the 19th century in America, art was used to express the perspective of Manifest Destiny, a desire to conquer the continent. In the second half of that century, the attitudes shifted to conserving nature. Has this attitude held steady and/or grown in presence? I would imagine it has grown, yet we are still fighting the same battle. In our contemporary times, artists use art to seek change – be it political, social, environment and what have you. Art can be in many forms, poetry, sculptures, painting, photography and videography, even pottery! I remember in my AP English Literature class in high school, and my teacher told us that artists are a threat to totalitarian governments because they question what is established and influence others to think differently on different issues. Artists have an important role and responsibility in society to question the current status quo. One of their many important responsibilities is to raise awareness to engage communities and provoke thought in the public. Asking questions isn’t enough! Artists have immense freedom to explore, develop, and redefine current notions and have a responsibility to take advantage of that freedom. Related to the two responsibilities mentioned above, artists lead change in society through their art. Artists make others see things differently, from a different perspective. Not every artist must have the same objective, the same opinion, or style – and that’s what makes each piece powerful and persuasive in its own way.
Brown, A. (2014). Art & Ecology Now. Thames & Hudson.