Activism and Advocacy Through Visual Art

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Bi-weekly – Week 1 ; Tuesday ; 12pm – 2pm

Terms 1 & 2 – via Zoom    –    Space Available

Individual artists, as well as small groups of visual activists, create art to engage persuasively with the world:  to change it, to unite a movement, or to draw attention to social issues.  Over the centuries many artists and groups have devoted their careers to sending influential messages through visual art.  In this workshop we will explore the art of select visual activists, and various progressive art movements, through analysis and discussion of their work in light of the cultural environment of their time.
For this full-year online workshop, and in the spirit of the Academy, all participants will present a 20-minute virtual slide talk of an artist-advocate or an activist-movement within their cultural contexts.  By early summer a recommended list of visual activists and influential art movements will be distributed; however, participants may present an artist-activist of their choosing.
We anticipate lively debate and discussion.


Although curious about a great many topics, Sharon Harris’ ( main interests are in all areas of the arts.  While working in education, she pursued a second career as a fine-art photographer.  Until recently Sharon regularly visited galleries, museums and exhibits  world-wide to view and learn more about art.

A 1971 visit to a Kandinsky exhibition introduced Patti Stoll ( a new world and led to her lifelong interest in and enthusiasm for the arts, particularly abstract art. Throughout a career in business and higher education she has maintained interests in art through study and visiting various galleries and museums.

Workshop Notes:

Every session of the Activism and Advocacy through Visual Art workshop will consist of two presentations, each approximately 50 minutes: 20-25 minutes to present the information via a digital presentation, and 20-25 minutes of group discussion. Participants may select an activist-artist or an influential art movement from a general theme (e.g., social justice, war, the environment, gender, indigenous issues, race, politics, etc.). Where practical, we will attempt to group two presentations on a similar theme on the same workshop date. A list of themes and suggested artists and art movements will be sent to participants shortly after registration. Participants may also present an artist or art movement of their own choice.

We encourage all participants to discuss various aspects of the cultural environments in which the artist or movement selected created their persuasive artworks. These may include the social, political, economic and artistic climates that existed at those times and locations.

After briefly presenting this background information, we suggest the following framework for the remainder of participants’ presentations. It is hoped that presenters will:

  • Illustrate examples of the artist/s’ earlier artworks that conformed to the status-quo at the time.
  • Describe a specific incident or situation, if any, that triggered a change in the art produced and caused it to pivot in a new persuasive direction.
  • Show and describe examples of the activist-artist’s work, or the influential art movement’s creations.

* Describe the reception of the artist’s or movement’s works, and any changes that occurred either artistically or societally as a result.

Once a topic has been selected, we will be happy to help participants with assistance locating websites or books that may contain appropriate information and art illustrations.

Artists and Movements that may be discussed in this workshop