Arts for Social Justice

 

Part One: Arts for Social Justice

Art – including painting, poetry, film, music, and theater – is a universal form of expression often viewed for its beauty. But, art also can be a vehicle to raise awareness, build community, and inspire people for civil rights and social justice.

 

Here Nyah Pierson, an undergraduate at the University of Michigan who performed with the Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit while in high school, interviews her dean, Aaron Dworkin, about the role of arts for civil rights and social justice. When the dean was a student and young violinist at Michigan, he founded the Sphinx Organization to address the stark under-representation of people of color in classical music, and the lack of diversity both on stage and in the audience in concert halls.

QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER AND DISCUSS
  • Which forms of art do you like best, and why?
  • Are there specific artists whose work communicates social justice? Who, and why?
  • What would it take to motivate artists, in your school or community, to consider using their talents for a social justice purpose?

Part Two: The Arts Wall

Art is a universal form of expression which is known for its beauty, and which also can inspire social justice and social change.

 

Here Aaron Dworkin – Dean of the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance, and founder of the Sphinx Organization which promotes diversity in the arts – provides an eloquent example of beautiful music and spoken word, with a social justice purpose.

 

The work is performed by Dean Dworkin, pianist Lara Downes, and cellist Yo-Yo Ma, who came together recently to celebrate the purpose and power of the arts in America.

 

Dean Dworkin serves on the advisory board of the Youth Civil Rights Academy, and ‘The Arts Wall’ is made available here with his permission.

QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER AND DISCUSS
  • What is the wall to which the artist refers in his spoken word?
  • ​What are the social justice issues about which he speaks?
  • Are there artists – for example, poets, musicians – who speak to you with a social justice message?

#youthcivilrights