Why is art so often undervalued and underutilized in modern life? Some argue that art does not cure disease, build roads, create economies, or feed the poor (1). However, history has repeatedly shown that art movements have and continue to change the world. Works of art have been used to promote religions, bring attention to healthcare issues, influence politics, and create a call to action on a massive scale (2).
Here are some of my favorite examples of how art has changed and influenced society for years.
- Guernica 1937 by Pablo Picasso is a powerful image that depicts the devastation caused by war.
- The Barack Obama-inspired piece of work Hope by artist Shepard Fairey is an iconic image that helped lead to the successful election of the first African American president of the US.
- The Last Supper by Leonardo DaVinci has shaped art, popular culture, religion, and politics since it was painted over 500 years ago.
- The musical West Side Story dealt with issues such as racism, classism, gang violence, and murder in a compelling and unexpected way by becoming a staple on Broadway and being performed repeatedly to audiences of multiple generations (3).
- The play The Normal Heart by Larry Kramer and the painting Silence = Death by Keith Haring shed light on people living with HIV/AIDS, making the issue more relatable and widely publicized. This led to increased funding for HIV/AIDS research and development, leading to development of effective medications and prevention programs to decrease spread of the disease (3).
- The murals of Diego Rivera can be seen worldwide and prominently in Mexico City in the 1920s inspired by the Mexican Revolution. “With his large-scale public works, Rivera communicated important political messages that challenged, mobilized, and inspired the public. This influenced the creation of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s ‘New Deal,’ a series of projects after the Great Depression proving the virtue and validity of public art” (4).
Art has the ability to connect people, preserve history, support critical thinking, support positive social change, and inspire people. It is clear that art has the potential to enrich the lives of everyone.
Light Awake believes art makes life better and incorporates art into the wake-up experience. That’s why art is featured at the end of Light Awake’s alarm sequence, including inspirational quotes. Start your day looking at something beautiful and inspiring.