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Projects: Creative Activism

Art attack?

I first read this term in a Young Adult graphic novel, P.L.A.I.N. Janes by Cecil Castellucci. P.L.A.I.N. is an acronym for “People Loving Art In Neighborhoods.” It’s the story of a teen named Jane whose family moves from a city struck by a terrorist attack to a suburban high school where she finds new friends (all named Jane) and creates a movement to create random acts of art to build community. Cool concept. Reminiscent of Banksy and JR, world-renowned artists who have elevated graffiti to a new level of impact and respect. JR even won the TED “Change the World” Prize. See his acceptance speech below:

We’re fortunate that there is an open online course, Creative Activism, that is dedicated to helping college students and others learn about ways that they can use art to make a contribution. Here’s the Creative Activism Toolkit. The Creative Activism Toolkit features the work of photographer Dan Eldon who made lasting contributions as a photojournalist. Here’s a slideshow about the project.

For this course, you are challenged to work with a couple of other class colleagues to conceptualize, design, implement, evaluate, and document in a 10-minute or less video a creative activism project.

This design model may help your team as you become what Roman Krznaric calls “empathy adventurers” and brainstorm a problem and a plan for your collaborative project
“How Thinking Like a Designer Can Inspire Innovation.”

Where? Your project, of course, can be local. Look around our communities in the Triangle to come up with an idea. Or, you project could be globally. Consider projects online that are designed to use art to change the world, in a small or a huge way. One example: The Nicest Place on the Web.

Other concepts that may inspire a course creative activism project include:


Young entrepreneur’s dream is realized and the story is shared with the world . . .

History Harvest
An effort to collect “the people’s history.”

From Participatory Culture to Public Participation is a project inspired by Henry Jenkins’s work (don’t miss his video on this page) and looks at how social media is encouraging social movements often inspired by the arts.

Candy Chang’s “Before I Die, I Want to . . . –making the most of public spaces to build relationships and community

© 2013 Creative Inquiry

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