Why art as activism
Welcome to my inaugural blog post! In this post I'll answer the question of Why Art?
Since I've launched this art website, I've noticed something interesting. A lot of activists have artistic talent - be it writing, photography or the more traditional arts of sketching and painting. I suspect many came to it the same way I did - as a means to cope with the deep sadness we feel when faced with what can seem an impossible task.
I wonder though if we also innately understand how powerful art and imagery can be as a catalyst for change, simply because it was for so many of us.
Most of us came to the movement because of imagery in one form or another. If it was in the last 10 years, that imagery was likely in the form of investigation footage or photos. If earlier, through evocative words in a book that painted a picture of the suffering of animals. It's these images (whether real or imagined) that are difficult to shake. They bring many of us to our senses and compel us to become a voice for animals.
But I've found that something happens after we know the truth. We start turning away from the images. How many times have you thought: "I know this. I don't need to see it again." After producing such graphic images for over a decade, even I began having difficulty with them. (Interestingly, hardened investigative journalists I've worked with have also admitted that they had to watch the footage I gave them in steps - generally starting without audio).
And yet we know from recent surveys that veg'ism has a high drop-out rate. Whether we want them or not, we may need those images as reminders of why we chose this (oftentimes difficult) road.
This hasn't made me question the need for investigative footage, but it has made me realize that we need to offer both graphic imagery and artistic imagery. My hope is that through art I'll be able to help others remain a voice for animals and draw in those who would otherwise not be reached by graphic images.