Understanding the Role of Art in Social Movements and Transformation


  • Melody K. Milbrandt Georgia State University


social justice, art education, social transformation, activist art, undocumented immigrants


According to Reed (2005) the arts function as cultural forms within social movements to transform society innumerous ways. These functions are to: encourage social change; empower and deepen commitment; inform larger society about social issues, harmonize social activists within the movement; inform internally to express or reinforce values and ideas; inform externally as a more effective way to communicate movement ideals to people outside the movement; enact movement goals directly historicize to invent, tell and retell the history of the movement; set a new emotional tone; critique movement ideology; and provide elements of pleasure and aesthetic joy. In the first part of this paper an examination of how the arts as cultural forms contribute specifically to contemporary social transformation will be discussed. In the second part of this paper an example of personal and social transformation will be illuminate these concepts.

Author Biography

Melody K. Milbrandt, Georgia State University

Melody Milbrandt is an Associate Professor Georgia State University School of Art and Design.