education-for-socially-eengagedI found this reading by Pablo Helquera- to be very important in considering art as a social action.  The references to the Reggio Approach movement in education are so important when looking at the power of a new idea in one city that actually grew into a  global change in early childhood education.  It is important to recognize the power of a small movement that is an answer to a problem that comes at the right time, the right place and is completely logical. It grows like a seed that has all the right components.  The roots reach out- the leaves educate, the stem supports. Educational systems that must change and governmental systems that must change can be put in a parallel comparison when studying the possibilities of their revolution.  They

must continually try something different to change, to exist.



Gutfreund and Cornett – Amazing Art Activism Projects and Exhibits

Social Justice: It Happens to One, It Happens to All
Saint Mary’s College Museum of Art, Morago, CA, September 18 – December 11, 2016


Photo by Marie Cameron



“If you want peace, work for justice” – Pope John Paul VIArt can inspire change and bring people together, crossing the borders of cultures and languages. Artists challenge the norm, imagine the potential and inspire social change.
For some, the United States is a true manifestation of the “American Dream”, yet, for many individuals both nationally and globally, basic human and civil rights are abridged and jeopardized with a judicial system that has eroded confidence and trust, and with racism propagated through groups that have systemic power to institutionalize prejudice in the forms of laws, policies, and ideologies that exclude and oppress others.
Gutfreund Cornett Art sought art in all media that spoke to and illuminated the ongoing conversation around race, conditions of the working class, disparities in global wealth, power, education, shelter, access to food, water and health services, immigration issues, criminal (in)justice, women’s rights, subjugating ethnic groups and the gender queer in the modern world.  Read more


Artists Saving the Environment

Top 5 Environmental Artists Shaking Up the Art World

Clemson clay nest by Nils-Udo (2005) via designboom

As the primal creator, Nature could be considered the world’s most powerful and influential artist. And standing at the junction of art and nature are environmental artists, who are often balanced on an intermediary edge, searching and synthesizing creative, unimagined new ways to redefine our relationship with nature. Working with a wide range of materials–ranging from the raw, the found, to the discarded, environmental art can be evocative, provocative or sublime, and oftentimes communicates an urgent message. From the scores of talented environmental artists out there, we’ve rounded up some greats and a couple of emerging ones too–read on, and feel free to add to the list!

1. Andy Goldsworthy: Raw Environmental Art

Rowan Leaves & Hole by Andy Goldsworthy via Matt Thomas

Probably one of the better known environmental artists, British-born Andy Goldsworthy is famous for his site-specific, ephemeral work employing colorful flowers, leaves, mud, twigs, snow, icicles, and stones. He typically uses his bare hands, teeth, even saliva to prepare and assemble his pieces. Some of his art pieces, such as those featured in video Rivers and Tides, are designed to decay or disappear with the ebb and flow of nature. Goldsworthy characterizes his art in this way: “Movement, change, light, growth, and decay are the life-blood of nature, the energies that I try to tap through my work.”

2. Artist-Naturalist Nils-Udo: Potential utopias

Nid d’eau, Chiemgau, High Bavaria, Germany (2001) via sajehau

Bavarian artist Nils-Udo has been working directly with nature for more than three decades. His lyrical pieces–or what he calls “potential utopias” of giant  read  more at-

The Pussy Hat Project How Yarn Can Make a Political Statement (once again)

Late in posting , sorry! However when I found out how this idea, so creative,  spread so quickly, I still wanted to post this on ARTFORSOCIALACTION.COM. The idea is so great and encompasses so many aspects of creative peaceful dissent.  I would encourage people to visit the PUSSYCATPROJECT.COM and keep up with their project.  Also while you have your pussyhat thinking cap on read the power statements they have posted and dream of your own artistic social action.

Art is slippery: 6 ways you can use it to build peace

Art is slippery: 6 ways you can use it to build peace

By Jacob Lefton 12 February 2015

An artist works on a Ladakhi painting. Photo by: Kiran Jonnalagadda / CC BY-SA

There is Picasso’s legendary reply to a German officer visiting his studio in occupied Paris: “Did you do this?” (indicating a photo of Guernica). “No, you did.”

There is nothing new about socially engaged art. Art intent on affecting positive cultural change has a strong and vibrant history, and artists have often been at the forefront of adopting new technologies to explore that expression. Now, technologist peace builders are turning their attention to the burgeoning wealth of knowledge that artists are amassing about the uses of democratized technology and interconnected tools.

Peace builders eager to engage artists and cultural workers who exist both in and outside of the technological landscape will find myriad examples of projects to learn from and discussions to read.

In the handbook Education for Socially Engaged Art: Materials and Techniques, Pablo Helguera writes, “SEA is a hybrid, multi-disciplinary activity that exists somewhere between art and non-art, and its state may be permanently unresolved. SEA depends on actual — not imagined or hypothetical — social action.”

So what are some practical ways we can use art to catalyze real action, to do what Helguera calls “move beyond the symbolic”?

For the six ways to use art to build peace go to:
There are many more examples, and too many approaches to list them all. Art for peace will also play a key role at this year’s Build Peace in April where we’ll be exploring art and cultural works as tools for mediation, reconciliation and rebuilding.

As Deborah Fisher writes, “[A]rt is slippery. It means a lot of different things to different people at different times, but it does have this one little bit of consistent, concrete magic. A great artwork embraces paradox, and contains multiple, sometimes contradictory, truths. I think it’s this quality that gives a great SEA project the ability to reframe, reshape, or for a moment redistribute power.”

What are other ways art can be used for social impact? Share your insights through the comment section below.

You can help shape our coverage on global development innovations. What do you think is an innovative idea? Let us know by leaving a comment below or by emailing

About the author


Jacob Lefton

Jacob Lefton is a creative director with a decade of experience in art, performance, writing, and education. His varied skills have led him to be, at times, a blacksmith, teacher, concept designer, set designer, trustee, writer, and circus performer. He currently runs a small custom metalsmithing business and is one of the art curators for Build Peace 2015.

An Artist Call for Resistance -January Actions from Watching Paint Dry


Mural: “Cultivating Resistance,” SF Poster Syndicate in collaboration with Clarion Alley Mural Project, SF, CA

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.

— Edgar Degas


Artists have always been the spirit of resistance movements, and they are essential to the “big, beautiful” wall-of-us that we are building. Thankfully, they will not be busy performing for Trump at his inauguration, but there is a growing movement of artists who will be performing against Trump all over the country. We must fuel that movement. One way is to support Watch Paint Dry, a grassroots call to action for all artists, including musicians, to livestream their resistance art between January 15th and January 21st. It’s as easy as logging into a social platform, going “live”, and tagging your stream with #watchpaintdry.

Never underestimate the power of artists to change the world.

All-of-us must support our resistance artists.

Here is how:

1. Share this Facebook page.

2. Ask all of your artist friends to take this pledge.

3. Take the pledge yourself. This movement is for anyone who wants to resist Trump through creative expression.

I took action!

Art, Social Space and Public Discourse in Iran

Current or Past Projects (that fill you with ideas)

Live Broadcast From Tomorrow

The opening ceremony of the three-day symposium will take place at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco on November 3rd with a live-stream from Tomorrow, a traditional coffeehouse in Tehran, Iran’s Darvaze Ghar district.

Slavs and Tatars : 79.89.09

The lecture-performance looks at two key modern moments – the Iranian Revolution of 1979 and Poland’s Solidarność movement in the 1980s – as bookends to the two major geopolitical narratives of the 20th and 21st century, respectively – Communism and political Islam. Via a range of issues as disparate as the monobrow, modernity, and the Beach Boys, the lecture-performance…

Mohsen Namjoo : ZAR

Zār refers to a type of spirit/wind (ruh/rih/bād), the affliction it causes, and the ritual by which the malady is assuaged. It is local to the Southern coastal regions of Iran but has its origins in Africa. The healing rituals are led by MamaZārs and BabaZārs who sing in a mixture of Persian, Arabic, and…

GhalamDAR // public art works

GhalamDAR will be the 2016 artist-in-residence and will produce three new works on campus at Stanford’s McMurtry Art Building, San Francisco’s Mission District, and Oakland’s Jack London Square.

How the Creative Action Institute Began Action

Becoming Creative Action Institute

Creative Action Institute began as ArtCorps in 2000 out of the idea that art has the power to break down barriers and unite across differences. Through ArtCorps, volunteer field artists harnessed the power of arts and culture to engage communities in addressing the challenges they face.

Partner organizations began to express interest in deeper training in these creative methods in order to successfully integrate them. In response to this, we developed a systematized approach to training and coaching in order to transfer the knowledge and skills to our collaborating partners, enabling them to independently initiate and replicate creative strategies for environmental and social outreach.

With the broadened scope of our work, we saw that our name no longer accurately reflected our work, and Creative Action Institute was born.

– See more at: