Speak Out: The Center for Community Engagement Explores Art as Activism

Written by Chris Pasion, graduate assistant to The Graduate School.

An overhead shot of a street mural that reads "Black lives matter" in French.

Art has always been used as a form of social activism. During contentious times throughout history, artists have been influenced by the times to create works that reflect the period, tell underrepresented stories, and inspire societal change. In 2020, we find ourselves in yet another period of social unrest throughout our country and the greater global community. Like clockwork, artists have assumed their roles as storytellers once again. To help celebrate and promote art as activism, the Center for Community Engagement (CCE) is bringing people together with a two-week-long series of socially distanced campus events and online discussion sessions. Speak Out: Using Art to Create Change aims to get people involved and educated on how art is used as a vehicle for activism and positive change here in Cincinnati and across the globe.

Speak Out: Using Art to Create Change begins today, September 15th, from 4 to 5 p.m. with the kickoff event, What is Artistic Activism. This will be the first discussion session of three (the following two will be Using Art to Create Change and Art as a Movement). CCE is partnering with ArtWorks (a local nonprofit that invests in creative arts projects and education throughout the city) and Mind the Method (a collective that creates documentaries on local musicians and creatives) to deliver these discussion sessions. The conversation is sure to be dynamic and wide-ranging; expect to explore the social impact of many different forms of art, from the visual arts to music and multimedia. 

In addition to the discussion sessions, CCE is planning a few socially-distanced events to get you out from behind the screen and exploring the arts in real-life. First up is the A Song that Changed the World event, which will take place on McMicken Commons. This event will explore music as a form of activism with three different stations to interact with and a DJ who will be taking requests for songs of protest. A self-guided mural tour, watch party with Mind the Method, and final showcase (details for each TBA) will also take place to wrap up the Speak Out series.

As a primer for the topics that will be explored in the Speak Out series, check out this TEDx Talk on “Art is a weapon for social change" with Dr. Tammy L. Brown, a professor at Miami University:

Video link:

Speak Out: Using Art to Create Change 

  • Self Guided Mural Tour 
    • September 22, details TBA
  • Mind the Method Watch Party
    • September 29, details TBA
  • Speak Out Showcase
    • October 2, details TBA

Check out CCE’s CampusLink page for more info on each of the events in the Speak Out series (be sure to RSVP for each at the hyperlinks above), as well as see what else CCE has planned.