Learn about cutting-edge contemporary artists operating at the forefront of social change and explore how artists confront social and political issues, shaping their work as a form of activism, criticism, or inspiration to transform the world we live in.
What role do artists play as activists? This course examines artists’ relationships with the world around them, focusing on artists who blur the line between art and activism, and whose work awakens viewers and readers to injustices and inequalities. Students will explore how artists address the injustices they see, how they employ art as a powerful tool for communication, and how they use their creativity to challenge established thought in order to create a more equitable culture.
The course will examine the history of art and activism by looking at work inspired by events such as the Vietnam War, 9/11, immigration, and the Black Lives Matter movement. Students will also learn about cutting-edge contemporary artists who are at the forefront of social change, such as Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei; interdisciplinary social activist Theaster Gates; and legendary feminist critics The Guerrilla Girls. By looking at diverse examples of activist art, students will see how artists respond directly to the needs of local communities through a variety of media. At the heart of this course lies the belief that artists can play a profound role in transforming our time and shaping the future.
Visits will include a combination of trips to major New York City art museums and public art installations, as well as galleries and other places related to activist art.
In the past, site visits have included:
- The Brooklyn Museum
- The Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture
- The Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art
- The Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum
- The Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice and Gallery
- Top galleries, such as David Zwirner, Hauser & Wirth, and Pace Gallery
- Artists’ studios
In the past, guest speakers have included:
- Activist artists
- Museum curators
- Representatives from social justice organizations
Materials Fee: $245
Health Fee: $100
Please note: This information is subject to change at any time at the discretion of Sotheby’s Institute of Art.