Morally-explicit art calls on artists to become explicit about the messages they portray that underpin their works of art.
Morality changes as people become more conscious of their values. An artist’s explicit expression of the values in their work prompts audiences to reflect on their own values.
Artists can express their values in a variety of ways, in the body of their work, in its title, in its description or in the narrative they wrap around the work in interviews, media and any other form of communication.
Individual artist’s messages become part of the wider call for social change with the common language of positive, universal values such as trust, respect, dignity and hope. They are universal because they are valued throughout the world. They are positive because they represent an evolved nature of humanity that equip us with behavioural guidance towards a sustainable, socially cohesive way of life.
Works of art become moral when they identify and highlight aspects of life that support or betray these inherent values, that allow or defeat injustice, where promises are kept or broken, where cultures care for or alienate entire swathes of people.
Morally-explicit art starts and ends with a heightened awareness of the values and morality embedded within a work of art.
Artists can contribute to the Morally-explicit Art movement by describing the messages within their works using the language of values, particularly dilemmas relating to competing values. They may choose to include key values in the title. They can refer to the moral issues raised by their works when interviewed. They can connect their work to the work of other artists through the medium of values.
This is how artists can raise their own awareness in three ways:
Regularly explore your values
Values become relevant to our lives when we live them. We describe ourselves as authentic when we live the values we believe in. But much of our current morass in life stems from our living inauthentic lives, often unaware of our own betrayal of our own values.
Artists can become more attuned to their own values through a regular exploration of individual values they come across in their daily encounters.
Explore values by reading about them, by discussing them in the context of your work or the work of others, by reading other people’s thoughts about values. The Values Library in our Exploring Your Values section offers a wide range of values to explore.
Engage with Morally-explicit Art
Look out for morally-explicit art. Engage with it. Engage with the artist. Bring some of the ideas you like into your own work. Share your ideas with other artists.
Connection with other people is a fundamental part of our mental wellbeing. Nourish yourself with the bonds of shared purpose.
Talk about your morals and your values
No-one enjoys being preached to. That is not what morally-explicit art is about. But people do enjoy hearing about other people’s values and their personal struggles with morality. Write blogs about your values and your challenges with morality, chat with people about your values and their values, write on social media about them.
Whenever people ask about your work, make a point of identifying the values and moral context that you express within your work. Share your thoughts, not necessarily to ram your views down their throats, but to create a dialogue of mutual understanding to enrich the relationships we can develop with people throughout the spectrum of harmonious, polarised and fear-based beliefs.
Making morality explicit is what helps people to understand their own values better and the challenges we all face in adapting our values to personal circumstances that are often outside our control. This raised awareness is, in and of itself, enough to create momentum towards a refreshingly new way of understanding the world, one which is more sympathetic to the needs and aspirations of individuals, communities, nations and humanity, both now and for the future.