“The greatest conflict is not stemmed from selfish intention, but from miscommunication” – Yewande Austin, Founder of Global Institute for Change
What the majority of the world may not realize is that communication, media, and art go hand-in-hand. In fact, it’s nearly impossible to have a conversation about one and not mention the others. It is through art that we are able to break language barriers and communicate across cultures globally. The media helps to relay that information, amplifying voices to the masses. Through art, even the smallest of voices are loud. However, despite the unifying potential of art, abusing its power can lead a society into a downward spiral. Thanks to the media, art is everywhere and seen/heard by everyone. The messages can reflect positively or negatively. It can be a call to action or a call to destruction. Thus, the importance of recognizing its power.
The music we groove to, the lyrics we repeat, the murals we walk past, the movement we create with our bodies, the sounds we make –this is art. Whether we give it purpose or not is up to the artist but, we must keep in mind, perception varies across different scopes. What seems one way to the artist may be received differently by the audience. Someone will always walk away with something to think about. Are they walking away feeling empowered or oppressed? This is where power comes into play. This is where history shows its strength. This is where we, as a society, speak up. How can we use the power of art to change the world?
From slave hymns to hip hop, music speaks to its audience. In under-developed countries, oppressed citizens use music as a weapon and a tool to free others. However, music can also be used to contribute to the psychology of self-hate. Visual art can be a platform for social progression, or be the face of political propaganda. Movement can be a form of expression and release, or lose its artistic appeal altogether. What are we trying to say? Are we even the ones saying it? As artists, are we saying what we really want to say, or are we simply messengers from the oppressors to the oppressed. The point here is, art is communication and we need to be aware of what we are communicating and to whom.
Art, especially music, is a heavy influencer on how we view ourselves and how we view others. If we are constantly bombarded with song lyrics that encourage destructive behavior, we become a destructive society. If we embrace ourselves, flaws and all, through our artistry, we encourage others to do the same. Instead of hurting each other, let us celebrate. It doesn’t always have to have emotional appeal, but it should be meaningful. Let us empower vulnerable communities with critical tools to change the outcome of their future. Sure, art can be void of politics, but art will never be void of communication and we must pay close attention to what we are saying even without words. Art not only has the potential to be a catalyst for change, but it has to potential to save societies, communities, families, and lives. Art speaks to our hearts and, if the message is powerful enough, stays there.
Photo: Elvrich Castane
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