SchoolArts Room

Murals Often Express Social Or

By Nancy Walkup, posted on Oct 11, 2017

When I was the Elementary Director of the National Art Education Association (NAEA), I worked on the committee to write a NAEA position statement on Social Justice, a cause I believe to be critically important. (Position statements are reflective of national issues or topics of interest to art educators and are regularly developed and reviewed to provide support for teachers.) That experience inspired the November issue of SchoolArts Magazine.

Murals often express social or environment concerns through art. I'm sitting by a mural in Tucson, Arizona that draws attention to the endangered jaguar.
For this issue, I must also thank two co-editors who contributed greatly to its scope and content: Wanda Knight, Professor of Art Education and Women’s Studies at Penn State School of Visual Arts, and David Gran, a high school teacher at the Shanghai American School in China and author of the art education blog, The Carrot Revolution.
You may be familiar with activism through the arts for efforts such as Pinwheels for Peace, the Memory Project, and the Hexagon Project from articles in SchoolArts or from the Internet. These kinds of efforts provide a platform for developing kindness and thoughtfulness towards others. They were all begun by just one or two people but have now become widespread due to the accessibility of the Internet. Our issue this month shares other similar efforts by art educators. They might just inspire your own.
NAEA Position Statement on Social Justice
NAEA recognizes the importance of art education to raise critical consciousness, foster empathy and respect for others, build community, and motivate people to promote positive social change. Service learning is one approach to education in which social justice is addressed through service with others, often in arts-based projects.
Artists often engage with the issues of their time, and some treat the creation of art as a social practice. Art can provide a meaningful catalyst to engage individuals and communities to take action around a social issue. The processes by which people create and interact with art can help them understand and challenge inequities through art education and social justice. 
The interconnectedness of the Internet has enabled many social justice and service learning projects to grow into global arts-based efforts. Visual art educators are encouraged to have their students participate in pre-existing social justice/service learning projects or to develop their own.
[Adopted March 2015]