Photo by W W
How much can people account for art influencing society, and in what way does it have the power to change the world? Throughout his 36-year architectural career in Tampa, Ronald Harden realized his capacity as an artist to impact the world.
A common question people ask about art, beyond how one is created, is how it can change society. How can visual materials that are merely painted, sculpted, or digitalized be able to touch the lives of people and prompt them to change the world?
Art has long been a part of the world. It’s one of the factors defining culture and society, telling people how life was during that particular time within a specific place. Art is also universal. It connects people instead of pulling them apart, highlighting their differences. It helps them break barriers, as it can become a means of challenging the status quo and creating an inclusive world. In a way, art can make or break society with its notable influence.
Art and Its Artist
Author and designer Ronald Harden realized more than his potential in architecture throughout his 36-year architectural career in Tampa, Florida. Being physically and closely exposed to art in the field, Harden realized how powerful it could be to influence whatever surrounds it. In his book Untold Architectural Black History of Tampa, Florida, he understood how art could push an individual to have faith in himself, which will translate to enriching the world beyond changing its appearance.
From his perspective, there’s an apparent detachment to art and the so-called changes in the world. Art doesn’t directly change the world besides physically influencing its appearance and structure. Instead, art first touches and connects with the artist and the audience, who will then interpret or convert this inspiration to the world. This means that while art is a means of expression for people, the latter becomes a medium for art in influencing society.
Art Capturing and Eliciting Emotions
From an artist creating art to evoking emotions and movement in an audience, art follows a system directed toward eliciting action. People need to realize that emotions are a powerful source of action. Without these, people won’t be driven and motivated enough to act and alter their surroundings. For instance, people may strive to work for practical reasons. They want to earn money, buy material things, and have a better life. These desires can be drawn out by intense frustration in their current life.
These emotions are what art brings out in people.
Pictures, paintings, and other art forms can define people. While artists and their art don’t and can’t instruct people on how they should react, they can evoke genuine emotions and opinions. Hence, depending on how artists present and perform their pieces, values and positive influence can be instilled, which will cultivate action toward change.
For instance, Hagar: The Dream Catcher, an artwork presenting a rebellious woman who practices self-love by believing and embracing her individuality and pursuing her dreams, may well be a drawing on paper, but it can fuel change and love to women. This can elicit an empowering emotion in its audience and become their source of strength, inspiring them to be the best versions of themselves by changing and influencing society.
Art Influencing Society and Waking People Up
Sometimes, people can be too focused on their lives to look around and consider what’s happening around them. This blinds them from their privileges and the luxury surrounding them, causing them to be mum about the problems of others.
What they can’t personally see can be presented to them through art. For instance, global warming is a prevalent and growing problem experienced worldwide. However, since most of its consequences aren’t visually apparent, most people can brush this aside and think it’s nothing serious. Artists can visualize these consequences that it catches people’s attention and, perhaps, trigger fear within them.
Art allows people to present reality differently to change the audience’s perspective and vision of the world. It can make visible what’s invisible to the average eye, letting people realize what they’re truly missing. Art becomes a catalyst for change by putting possibility on various mediums, awakening people’s realization of what can happen if they choose not to act now. It encourages people to turn their imagination and ‘what-ifs’ into action.