Social Action Artwork
January 24, 2008 9:51 AM   Subscribe

I need ideas for a visual representation of a human rights issue.

I'm in an Int'l studies class and we must create a Social Action "Art" project. Basically we create some sort of "artistic" entity that explores the human rights issue.

This sounds awesome, however, I'm also writing my thesis and don't have oodles of time to be artsy-fartsy.

What ideas can you give me for art projects relating to food security, poverty, hunger, homelessness etc etc?

I'm open to other ideas, but the problems of hunger and homelessness are what I find most fascinating.
posted by Etta Hollis to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: In today's local paper there was a picture of something similar done by a criminal justice class at the local college: they made a paper clip chain with one paper clip for each murder victim in the US for 2007 (or maybe 2006 if 2007 stats weren't available); it stretched down 3 flights of stairs and out the front door of the building. You could try a similar graphic visualization of the number of people affected by a problem over a given period.
posted by TedW at 10:05 AM on January 24, 2008

How elaborate is this supposed to be? In other words, how much time are you expected to put in, and what percentage of your grade is this project worth?

Off the top of my head, save all the food packaging/wrappers from stuff you and your friends eat and make something out of those, perhaps a silhouette of a homeless person.
posted by desjardins at 10:07 AM on January 24, 2008

Response by poster: It's a three part social action project:
1. the artistic "visual" representation of the issue
2. a 12-15 page paper or further elaboration of the visual artwork plus 6-8 page paper
3. creating an action plan: what can be done to resolve the problem/ how would I begin to tackle the issue/ what can I do?

All together it makes up 50% of our grade.
posted by Etta Hollis at 10:20 AM on January 24, 2008

Ask your campus cafeteria permission to go through their garbage for a day. Take out all the food items. Get as much other food waste from dorms, etc. as you can. Put it all into some sort of clear bottles - I would use those big plastic water cooler bottles if there is a lot of garbage or scale down as needed so you have at least a couple of dozen containers. No need to mash everything down. Seal the bottle very well. Then relate "how much food is disposed of on campus in a day" to "how many people in local city go hungry in a day" somehow (I have to leave some creative work to you).

If you really wanted to get into it, you could sort out the food waste roughly by color then use each container as a "pixel" to create some sort of image/pattern/number.
posted by mikepop at 10:25 AM on January 24, 2008

I'd propose a sculpture of a scale, weighing against each other the type of diet the Average American eats with that of the Homeless American. The Houston Food Bank recently sponsored an event where they asked community leaders to take the $3/day challenge and eat food that costs no more than $3/day for a week. My father took part in that and explained that it was very difficult to achieve. You could do a series of scales, and then compare what the average Homeless American eats with the Average Third World person. But that requires quite a bit of construction, which might be more time intensive than you'd like.

Of course, I happen to think that the most poetic thing to do would be to go to a homelesss shelter in your area, get to know a homeless person, interview them, and display the video as your visual presentation. Homelessness telling its own story. Your paper to describe it could be a discussion of how policy makers and even concerned citizens and volunteers like to minimize the human face of poverty into numbers and plans and programs.
posted by greekphilosophy at 10:34 AM on January 24, 2008

Something like this?
posted by azlondon at 11:40 AM on January 24, 2008

It's a little raw, but something involving the Faces Of Meth photos? There are various websites which have these, some with a longer progression of photos as well, not just two.

And presumably, because they're mugshots, the photos are in some kind of public domain/free for educational use space.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 3:09 PM on January 24, 2008

Inspiration here.
posted by Thug at 5:06 PM on January 24, 2008

What about comparisons - eg. a volume of wheat grass, next to the corresponding volumes of foodstuffs or bio-diesel that can be made from it. Or how long it will nourish a person, vs how long it will run their car.

(The way that the end of cheap oil is today making it more and more profitable to produce biodiesel crops instead of food, is a scary modern twist on issues of hunger and poverty)
posted by -harlequin- at 9:40 PM on January 24, 2008

Best answer: Look at the work put up by Osocio - they're a weblog that tracks social cause marketing. It's mostly posters and videos, but there is a LOT of creativity. They just featured the work of Maria Shirshova, who makes social cause posters as a hobby - you could contact her and swap ideas. TheBlong is another good resource.

I'd say a good way to start is to pick a cause, then work from there.
posted by divabat at 6:44 AM on January 25, 2008

Oh, I reread your question and you seem to have found a cause already. That's great. I'd suggest going to local agencies that deal with hunger & homelessness and investigate the material they have. At the very least, you'll get enough material for content, which can then inform their form.
posted by divabat at 6:45 AM on January 25, 2008

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