Art is linked very closely to the fundamental sense of self. Artists use various forms of expression to convey a feeling, state of society, depict critical moments in history or a perspective through space and time.
Art has always been a creative way to preserve history, presenting various views and scenarios through the ages. Art has also been instrumental in being the harbinger of change in society, bringing forth opinions that stood out and questioned the status quo.
What is the impact of art on society?
Art acts as a collective memory of society. Through expressive outlets such as paintings, sculptures, music, literature and other art forms, artists preserve life as we know it even better than historical fact-based records.
Art expresses how it felt to exist in a particular time. Ancient artists showcased their daily lives in the form of cave paintings and petroglyphs in Bhimbhetka, Venus of Berekhat Ram, and others around the world.
These expressive outlets showcased life hundreds of thousands of years ago in its most accurate form.
Art is also communicative—it helps people from various cultures understand and communicate with each other through songs, pictures and stories. People often relate to other societies and cultures through their artistic representations.
Art is often a preferred vehicle for social change. Governments use murals, paintings, sculptures, drama, movies and songs as propaganda material to change public opinion and launch public informational campaigns. For example, Art is one of the compulsory subjects taught at the basic education levels in Nigeria. Art education in Nigeria aims at inculcating in children the spirit of enquiry and creativity while developing their basic skills including those needed for proper adjustment and contribution to society, also
the Government of India often uses murals and paintings to discourage open defecation, foeticide, tree felling and other societal ills. The U.S. army used the slogan “I want you for U.S. Army” along with a photo of “Uncle Sam” as a popular recruitment drive poster.
In South Africa, during the apartheid era, for instance, artists such as Willie Bester and Sue Williamson created powerful works that denounced the injustices of the racist regime, contributing to the growing international outrage that ultimately led to apartheid’s demise.
Art is all around us. You experience art while walking through the city, listening to the radio, or driving your car. Every tangible man-made object you see or touch results from an artist’s vision. Artists provide creative, intellectual and emotional insights into society at large, impacting the masses and challenging the status quo. Art helps cultures unite and boosts economic growth—helping the world become a prettier, better and happier place to live in. This is why art is known as the highlighter on the text of life.
▪︎Sola Akanni is the Founder and the Chief Executive Officer of Kanny Art Gallery And Exhibitions, Lagos.