May 27, 2010 10:51 AM   Subscribe

What contemporary artists or arts organizations are using art to address major global issues?

I'm looking for artists or organizations that are actually doing something to intervene, or propose interventions in, the real world and its problems - as opposed to artists whose work comments on or critiques problems. For instance, architects who are designing green cities, artists building farms or gardens, or artists using art programs to assist in developing economies.
posted by Miko to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
V-day uses performances of the The Vagina Monologues to fight violence against women around the world.

V-Day events do more than raise money. The very act of performing the play often forces change.
posted by alms at 10:59 AM on May 27, 2010

A friend of mine co-founded WorldSavvy and they have a media and arts program (MAP) working with middle and high school students in urban areas to engage them in world affairs. The theme has been Immigration and Identity for the past 3 years and the students create art and music to document their own experiences while learning about the issues in a more global context. They also develop curriculum for teachers who want to run similar programs and do a host of other great things.

From the website about the MAP program:

Through the MAP youth use their own lives and communities as a platform to examine a global theme - Immigration and Identity - using visual arts, performance and media. This program illuminates the connections between community and world affairs and helps young people learn to use art and media as tools for self-expression, dialogue, and community engagement.

I'm a bit biased - but it's pretty awesome and a lot of the work produced by the students is really good.
posted by jasbet07 at 11:23 AM on May 27, 2010

Arcosanti is an architecture project that's been underway in Arizona for some time now. The architect who started it wants to develop a kind of sustainable urban housing model. They run building workshops also, I hear.

There is an architecture professor who is well known for having his students build affordable"green" housing for low-income people, but I can't remember his name. I think they've won awards for design for a house they built in Georgia...?
posted by wowbobwow at 12:12 PM on May 27, 2010

I end up recommending this book on MetaFilter a lot, but Suzi Gablik's book Conversations Before the End of Time includes a lot of examples of this, such as an artist in Santa Fe, NM whose ongoing art project The Great Cleansing of the Rio Grande River involves going to the Rio Grande with trash bags every month and cleaning garbage out of the river. Gablik talks about this and some other examples here.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:21 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

You might be interested in Architecture for Humanity...
posted by HandfulOfDust at 2:33 PM on May 27, 2010

Seth Tobocman has documented his involvement in various social/political movements in graphic novel form; War In The Neighborhood offers a history of one movement for accessible housing in New York; Disaster And Resistance is a collection of short comics done over a period of time in which he taught art to kids in Palestine and worked with Common Ground in New Orleans after Katrina (I THINK he's currently working on a book about this last one). His creates posters and banners that are used all over the place in housing rights and anti-globalization demos.

Fucked Up used their recent(ish) Christmas single to fund a number of non-profits that provide support for Indigenous women in Canada: Missing Justice, Sister's In Spirit, and the Downtown East Side Women's Shelter. Propagandhi's Jord Samolesky is a key organizer for the Canada-Haiti Action Network. The Yellow Door Choir donates the proceeds of their shows to various charitable organizations.

The Purple Thistle Community Centre is run by a collective of artists who provide support to local socially-conscious organizations, employ "at-risk" youth in various arts-related programs, and provide free arts workshops for community members. (Full disclosure: I used to work here as a collective member - it's actually where Mr. ellehumour and I first met.)
posted by ellehumour at 3:10 PM on May 27, 2010

The Groundswell Blog has some great resources.
posted by divabat at 3:00 PM on June 1, 2010

Thanks all. Very interesting range of things.
posted by Miko at 7:46 AM on June 2, 2010
posted by at at 1:46 PM on June 2, 2010

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