Art

This section sets out the basis of Morally-explicit Art.


Summary

Art has the power to change hearts and minds.

Morally-explicit art focuses that power on creating a fairer, more cohesive world.


Why do we need Morally-explicit Art?

The world is burning, flooding and dying out. The people are polarised, hateful and fearful. Stress rates are sky-high, suicides are sky-high, death by drugs are sky-high, inequality is sky-high.

In a human world that has been blessed with technology to get us to the stars, to heal sickness, to build homes that can withstand earthquakes, where 20% of the world has been lifted out of poverty in just 100 years, life expectancy is no longer rising, happiness in the world’s most powerful countries is in decline, trust in our leaders and in each other is collapsing.

On our journey through life, we hover at a fork in the road. One way leads to almost unimaginable wealth, the other to terrifying natural and human-driven destruction of our world and of each other. Yesterday, we chose our sad path to today. Today, we choose between the two paths of tomorrow – do we stick to our current path or do we twist away?

Art has the power to change the way we think, by challenging us to re-examine our understanding and beliefs of the way the world works.


The Heart of the Art


Norman Rockwell, 1964

Norman Rockwell painted a young girl of colour, Ruby Bridges, going to schools. She is flanked by security agents to protect her from the racial hatred this simple act provoked. It became an iconic inspiration for the growing Civil Rights movement of the 1960s in the USA, and it challenged the blind hatred of white supremacists.

The girl’s purity and innocence is represented in the contrasting simplicity of her youth, underscored in the whiteness of her dress, set against a grubby, tired wall stained with the violence of a smashed tomato.

The painting is packed with moral ambiguity and challenge. Ruby Bridge’s innocence, purity, peace, determination and dignity are set against the context of hate and menace.

The values implicit in the art drives its viewers to reflect on the context. This is the power that rests in the minds, hands and bodies of the artist, to provoke people to revisit their existing beliefs within contexts they may not have otherwise appreciated.

Morally-explicit art recognises the particular power of values to inspire a new understanding of the moral imperative for a peaceful, harmonious and prosperous society. Morality is the application of values in a complex web of contexts that may be difficult to disentangle. Artists have a pivotal role to play in this reawakening of social consciousness if they choose to make their mark.