Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Art for Social Justice

Life of a Masterpiece is one of my favourite television shows. This one-hour program chronicles the 'life' of a piece or composition of art; paintings, sculptures, music (etc.). The crafty narrarator explores the social and political fires sparked by, for instance, Pablo Picasso's Les desmoiselle d'avignon, which depicts five prostitutes.

Life of a Masterpiece basically reads like an Art History course. For more details, access:

These documentaries demonstrate how art can and has played revolution to societies. Perhaps that statement is too bold. Allow us to contend that art plays part in parcel to the construction of culture and, by extension, society. In the words of Aishwarya Rai: "Art reflects life, and life reflects art".

The idea that paint or clay or music can transform the way we interact as a people amazes me! And that is precisely the point. Neither the paint, nor the clay, nor the music challenge our world. The ideas behind these sheer physical abstracts are what disturb the status quo.

The picture in this blog is of a faux street sign in downtown Toronto, Canada. The sign was designed by Mark Daye and I think his art is tragically fantastic. Another sample of Daye's art includes "Homeless warming grate. Please keep clear". Imagine driving through one of Toronto's wealthy neighbourhoods, such as Rosedale, where signage conventionally reads "Quiet. Residential Area", and passing by another sign that reads "Quiet. Homeless people sleeping". Ironically, such a sign would not be out of place in Rosedale where a few homeless persons take habitat on the local park bench.

To read more about Mark Daye's art, access: