Intersections of Art, Social Justice, and Playfulness

pics for thumbnails tla.004

What is the purpose of art?  Is art simply an aesthetic endeavor to be enjoyed only by those with enough leisure time to attend gallery openings and museum exhibits?  Street artist JR does not think so.  In this autonomous learning activity, you will explore the art of JR and consider what impact his work might be having on the communities in which it is displayed, and on the wider world. After you’ve finished exploring, you may be inspired to embark on your own project. If so, be sure to share!

Watch this video of JR talking about his idea for how to change the world. Consider the intersections of art, social justice, and playfulness. What questions is JR raising? What impact do you think his art might be having in the communities where it is displayed?

Next, read some articles to become more familiar with JR’s work and philosophy. Again, be thinking about the intersections between art, social justice, and playfulness.

After you have some idea of what JR does, choose one of the projects liked and reflect on that project. Think about your community and the impact such a project might make there. Pretend that you are part of a team of photographers trying to re-create JR’s work in your community. Who would be the subject of your photos? Why? Who would be the audience for your photos? What would you want your project to accomplish? Write your reflection in a journal, or better yet, actually DO the project.

Then, talk about JR and his projects with friends and family. What do they think? Maybe they would like to be part of a project.

JR is using art to try to focus the world’s attention on those who are marginalized or are in conflict.  He is trying to get us to see inside the individual, to identify with them, find similarities with those who are different, to understand those we fear.  Art is one way, what’s yours?

The Social Justice Challenge

Think about the talents you have and how you could use those talents to do something for the world. What could you do?

About the Author
Lori Michele Kelley

Lori has Master’s degree in TESL and has taught English and Intercultural Communication in the United States, Turkey, South Korea, Indonesia, and Thailand. She also develops and conducts teacher development workshops for both pre- and in-service teachers. Riding pillion on backroads with her husband Michael Kelley in the tropics and wherever else there are good roadside coffee shops is one of her favorite things to do. She’s also quite fond of the water and made her husband promise they could live on a houseboat someday.

Leave a Reply