Does ART have the power to change people and society? sister Namibia talks to art students about how they see the role of their artworks.
Subject: Community art projects (Management)
Art and society (Management)
Pub Date: 09/01/2011
Publication: Name: Sister Namibia Publisher: Sister Namibia Audience: Academic; General Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Social sciences; Women's issues/gender studies Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2011 Sister Namibia ISSN: 1026-9126
Issue: Date: Sept-Dec, 2011 Source Volume: 23 Source Issue: 3
Topic: Event Code: 200 Management dynamics Computer Subject: Company business management
Geographic: Geographic Scope: Namibia Geographic Code: 6NAMI Namibia
Accession Number: 278172136
Full Text: Art has been used for centuries to communicate joy and sorrow, pleasure and frustration, ideas and feelings. Art fulfils an innate need of human beings to express their view of the world and it is manifest in many ways - visually, through textures, through sounds and through words. Art engages all five senses - sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch, and at the same time art tells a story or shares a feeling.

But can art also transform the feelings and ideas of others - of the listener, the viewer, the reader?

Sister Namibia asked fourth year Art and Design students at the University of Namibia how they perceive art, and whether they think art has the power to transform society and shape ideas.

Art is a silent voice that speaks on behalf of affected people. For years we have used art to address issues that are usually difficult to talk about - issues such as political oppression, poverty or violence. We know that, for instance, our foremothers and forefathers used art to express their frustration during the colonial era, and the same people used art to express their celebration of independence.


I think art is powerful in that it can convey many messages that can be understood by many different people in different ways. I use art as a mirror. My art is a reflection of who I am and what I stand for. Sometimes you find that your art reflects the same thing to other people and sometimes it doesn't. Art is a very subjective thing, and is what you as the artist, or the person looking at the art, decide it is. But despite this, your art can echo other people's emotions too.


As a graphic artist, specializing in advertising, I find that art is powerful in its ability to convince people that they need something or that they like something. Art persuades people to change brands or to try new things. This is powerful in itself. Art in advertising communicates issues visually that people only talk about.

Art transforms our concepts into concrete forms that people can relate to. Art builds relationships, but also breaks them.


Art is one of the most powerful tools of expression. Take fashion for instance - that's a form of art that communicates certain things about the person and how she or he is feeling or even who they are in society. While I chose to study fashion, I took a feminist stance, looking at fashion from the 70's. This was when women decided to express their independence and emancipation through the way they dressed. I also use fashion as art to raise awareness around women's bodies and their right to choose how to dress themselves.


I try to use art to communicate important health issues that sometimes go ignored. For example I am highlighting the issue of lupus, which is a disease of the immune system that sometimes affects people's skin. This picture is of what I see as a beautiful girl, but people's reactions to it have been of disgust and pain; no one tries to see beyond the disease itself at the person. This is the case for many sick people and other issues as well. People always dwell on what is on the surface. And that is the power of art - you can have a distinct idea and message while making something, but depending on the person viewing it, you can give one artwork many meanings.

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