The US Constitution speaks directly about establishing justice “in Order to form a more perfect Union.” What did the idea of justice mean to the framers of the Constitution, and how has that notion changed in the twenty-first century?
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.
–Martin Luther King Jr.
Throughout American history, artists have been agents of change for justice and equity. The very process of engaging with a work of art encourages viewers to slow down, look closely, and raise critical consciousness in order to make meaning. Reflecting on what we see or don’t see in our daily lives allows us to imagine new realities and worldviews. Art can be an act of advocacy, gathering people together around an idea and empowering them to be change-makers.
In this collection, you will find artworks that:
- address injustices based on individual or group characteristics, such as gender, race, religion, and sexuality
- reflect on our developments as a society by recognizing the challenges from the past and envisioning a better tomorrow
- bring about social change through deep and emotional connections as part of an artist’s social practice
Explore the ways American art addresses justice through the questions and artworks below.
How does art bring attention to social justice issues?
Can works of art drive viewers to take action? How?
Who determines what is just? Does justice look the same to everyone?
When have you experienced injustice or unfair treatment?