5th Station – Paint a Thousand Words
Find yourself a quiet space in which to work. You will need access to the internet to watch some short films and read some articles, a paper and pen for making notes and, depending on the creative activity you choose at the end, you may need coloured pens/ pencils to design your street art (or chalks if you are taking it outside) and/or a means of recording your song.
There is a well-known saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words”.
But what does that mean? Can one image really do more to communicate an idea than a full explanation? Is it about how quickly the message is conveyed? Is it a question of experiencing something rather than being told? Is it about how readily we remember the message? What do you think?
Take a look at the icons and images below and see how many of them you recognise as emblems of causes and campaigns around the world – what rights do they represent? Ask other members of your family what they think. If you are working in an online group check your answers with your classmates.
Most campaigns and causes use visual symbols and logos to represent their call to action. These images are used to communicate, in an instant, the essence of what the cause is about. They are designed to build unity and create common identity towards a movement for change without the use of words. We only need to look to the streets and windows around the world right now to see the power of a simple rainbow in communicating and promoting solidarity in a time of crisis.
But when it comes to freedom of expression, the power of art lies in its ability to challenge, rather than unite, us. Whether through visual art, memes, music, theatre or poetry, it can be a powerful way to make a statement, prompt people to think differently, shift our perceptions and stir our emotions. Art can help to involve more people in social and political issues by raising awareness and encouraging grass-roots participation. In this way art, in all its forms, can be a catalyst for change and give voice to a cause.
Take a closer look
Choose one or two of the categories below to explore some examples of the ways in which the creative arts can be used to encourage people-power, voice protest, challenge norms and raise awareness of a crisis, campaign or cause.
Use the examples given and do some research of your own to answer the following questions (write a short paragraph for each):
- Does art (in all its forms) have the power to change public opinion?
- Activism or Slactivism: does freedom of expression through the creative arts promote or undermine public engagement with a cause?
- Should activist art have a single, clear message or be open to interpretation and debate? Why?
- What are some of the pros and cons of promoting free expression through the arts and the influence it can have?
If you are working in an online group with other students you might want to split the topics between you and then share summaries of your topics and compare answers to the questions at the end.
Traditionally art and activism set out to achieve different things. Whilst art influences our emotions and challenges our imagination, activism sets out to influence our behaviours and challenge our reality. Combine the two and you can create a powerful and accessible force for change through artistic expression and creativity.
Consolidate with an activity
Apply some of your learning from this station stop to design and share a work of “Street Art with a Message” and/or compose and perform a “Song for Change”, either individually or collectively working with other students in your class. Check with your teacher before sharing your work and then tag us in on social media with #RSVoice.