Publication Date

2005

Abstract

This Capstone Paper asks, “What are the experiences of artists who communicate social activism through art and how does moral development relate to the degree of caring and commitment artists have to social justice?” The purpose was to research the phenomenon of art for social responsibility in relation to moral development. This was done by obtaining from artists engaged in social activism descriptions of their experiences and perceptions on morality and social justice. Theories of moral and human development form the basis of the analysis. Ten artists were interviewed: eight for their work on socio-political-environmental challenges, two because of their involvement with the Integral Art community.1 Six are from the United States, two hail from Brazil. A balanced gender representation allowed for analysis of the ways men and women express themselves and the implications on moral development. The data led to three key conclusions. First, mental models (ways of interpreting reality) and moral development (increasing degrees of caring and compassion for others) strongly influence social activist art. Secondly, by being aware of the interconnection of the interiors and exteriors of individuals and collectives, one can produce art that represents the world in its wholeness. Finally, women and men communicate in different ways about social justice and morality, even though masculine and feminine expressions are accessible to both sexes. This research is applicable to activist artists who believe that developing themselves morally will positively and directly influence their artistic expression. This work is also useful as a cross-disciplinary resource because, even though it addresses moral development in relation to art and social justice, moral values operate in all segments of life. 1 1 The Integral Art community is a group of artists who are applying Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory to art. The Integral Art Center has emerged around this concept, and can be found at www.integraluniversity.org.

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