Community art and vice versa

Art for social change is a form of cultural democracy. It opens space for public dialogue.

Sep 18, 2017 · 4 min read

Earlier this year, we, at Nomadways, had a fascinating conversation on how to call ourselves, to give a hint at what we do in a word. We bring people together. We give them a chance, a space and time, to practice their creativity. By doing this, we invite them to question and define their own values, to make of fine tune their own life choices. We hope that in return they will initiate creative actions for people in their community to do the same.

At the center of what we do, there is a core belief in creativity to be beneficial, to have the magical power of feeling good and positively impacting individuals and communities.

There is also an assumption that we are constantly learning and educating each other, influencing ourselves and others for better or worse. We’d like it to be for the better. And creativity is our tool for that.

Where does that lead us? We use creativity. For education. Of ourselves, of others. To define who we are, what we do, how to interact.

From those notions, we came up with a tittle for our work. For most of our actions for that matter. Artivism. We are artivists! We use art as our favorite tool. To learn. To teach. To exchange and share. To express & (re)invent ourselves, others and our communities.

That’s why we love community art.

Community art describes creative activities characterized by interaction or dialogue with the community. It often involves professional artist(s) collaborating with people who may not otherwise engage in the arts. It is deeply participatory and invites people to become the medium or material of the work. It creates links among communities through art creating debate, collaboration and/or social interaction.

Community artworks often hold equal or less importance to the collaborative act of creating them. It is associated with activism because it addresses social needs, therefore flirting with civic engagement and politics. The meaning of community artwork becomes helping a society to make its way towards a shared goal, to raise awareness, encourage dialogue, understanding and creative action.

Collaborative practices

We mainly recognize three forms of collaborative art, used in different contexts according to the particularities of each project.

The artist-driven model is the first type. In it, artists make themselves the catalysts of social change by their creation of a social commentary in their work, inspired by a community.

The second type leads artists to engage with communities and practice together some particular form of art creation, a special technique developed by them and realized in collaboration with members of the community. Then, they most often present their art in a public space accessible to the community to raise consciousness and foster dialogue within its members.

In the third type of collaborative art practice, the dialogic model, artists dialogue with a group to engage in an artistic creation addressing particular concerns present in the community. Using artistic techniques as tools for problem-solving, group-empowerment or therapy sometimes leads to artworks that are not intended for outside audiences.

Art for social change is a form of cultural democracy. It opens space for public dialogue.

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Photo of JR Artist works

These aspects and more make us love very deeply the idea and practice of community art. That’s why we’re designing a workshop for more of it to happen in Brivezac, the rural village where we’re creating our new space, Homade, dedicated to co-creation and developped with the help and love of our community.

Our next workshop is called “Subjective Mapping” and it’s taking place in Brivezac between 1st and 15th of October. We are truly excited to use the opportunity to practice again what we do best. And here, for the first time we will do some community art there.

Article by our amazing Anne (Nomadways team), who created Nomadways and brought us all together to do social art and help people exchange artistic practices in education.

About Nomadways

We craft international workshops for artists, educators and youth workers. Together we create pedagogical artwork, share and invent practical solutions to social problems.

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