by Emma Andros


A life without art would be dull, boring, colorless. It’s hard to believe that even today in some countries artists’ art can be completely censored because the government doesn’t agree with the content? Some art made right here in the USA used to be censored by the government and banned for nudity, violence, or even because the content of the artwork could upset a viewer. Isn’t the whole point of art to express oneself, and show parts of one’s life and journey through the stroke of a brush, or a splat of paint? Thanks to certain art preserving groups and movements, artists in the United States are allowed to show their art freely and express themselves. Art has also grown at an incredible rate in the past hundred years. New styles and ideas have been created through different cultural movements throughout the United States. Groups supporting different art styles have been born to protect the rights of artists and expand the growth of new ideas through art. Culture changes and enhancements gave African American artists more identity through their art styles. Art activism movements have changed the way art is made, and how people express themselves even today.


Art activism movements have changed the way art is made, and how people express themselves even today.


Art Activism is made to make art itself useful. Instead of just having art laying around in the corner just because, art activism movements have worked towards making art more useful. Kids can learn a lot by looking at different paintings or sculptures, or listening to different types of music. Artists’ actions and movements have expanded the popularity of viewing and making art, and in result newer and more advanced styles of art came about. The most popular form of art was realism paintings and sculptures up until about the 1920’s. Realism is a form of art that sounds just as the name suggests- realistic art based off of life-like people and objects. As realism is a very important form of art, it isn’t the most creative art. Realism doesn’t allow the viewer to really observe all parts of the work. Say a person was looking at a realistic painting of a horse. The thoughts that go through that viewer’s mind are: “Oh look, a horse.” and not much else. When someone looks at an abstract form of art, they could think “Oh I see a horse,” or maybe “That’s a banana.”. This is obviously an exaggeration, but the point is that you can learn a lot more about an artist from an abstract form of art, and can also see and imagine different images inside the art. Art makes minds more imaginative and further advances one’s learning capacity. ( insert quote from dan here ).


An arts activism movement called AAAMC ( Archives of African American Music and Culture ) allowed Black musicians to perform Rock music in front of large crowds and further expand rock music. AAAMC has allowed manyfamous and recognizable black musicians to go up on stage and make music publicly. AAAMC has worked to give African Americans more rights in art, such as letting their artworks show up in museums and letting their music be uncensensored to the public (mostly rock music). AAAMC has also helped spread the style of art that African Americans made during the 1920s and 1930s around to different races and cultures, making their abstract style much more popular. Life would be so different here in America if African American music hadn’t been around as much as it is.
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"Nous Quatre a Paris (We Four in Paris)", a watercolor piece by Harlem Renaissance artist Palmer Hayden.

Harlem Renaissance

The Harlem Renaissance spanned from the 1920s to the mid-1930’s in New York and brought up a new movement of art, music and literary talent. The Harlem Renaissance was the first time the African American people showed a new cultural identity through the arts. “Negro life is seizing its first chances for group expression and self determination.” (Alan Locke, 1926). The leaders of the art movement included James Van Der Zee, Sargent Claude Johnson, Laura Wheeler Waring, and Palmer Hayden. These artists made abstract paintings, and began to create more of the modern art that we see even today with more abstract takes to them rather than the more common realistic paintings that were made in the earlier 1900’s. The artists focused on realistic topics and highlights in their paintings but added abstract twists such as changing facial structures into shapes and adding in unrealistic colors. This new style further enhanced creativity in artists, and allowed viewers to have more open minds about the art they were viewing. The new art brought forth a new identity for African Americans and added onto their culture, and even whites began to take on the new style. Because of the Harlem Renaissance and the changes in culture that took place during, more art styles other than realism evolved and artists began creating more advanced art.

Pop Art

Pop art quickly became a modern type of art used by many artists. After the Harlem Renaissance, starting in the late 1950s and being of peak interest in
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Andy Warhol's pop art piece "Hamburger".
the 60s, a new style of art called pop art became. Pop art is artbased on modern popular culture and the mass media, often used as an ironic comment on traditional fine art. Andy Warhol

A famous piece by Warhol of a Campbell's soup can.

is perhaps the most well known pop artist, making about 10,000 known paintings and sculptures. Warhol
made pop art much more popular with works such as his Campbell’s soup can painting and his Madonna painting. Pop art is seen nowadays in graphic designs and in magazines. Some pop art was seen as “edgy”, and crossing the line from what is acceptable for the public and for what is not. As pop art became more popular amongst artists and the general public, artists got more public recognition and could show their art on billboards and in magazines. Graphic designing became increasingly more popular and walk-in art shows centering around pop art became more popular as well. The new form of art appealed to the general public and allowed artists to sell art and perform art showsmore often.

LePage taking away the work mural

LePage took away a 36 foot mural made by Judy Taylor about the worker and the celebration of the working community. Several business officials complained about the mural saying it was reminiscent of “communist North Korea where they use these murals to brainwash the masses.” ( NYC Times). The mural had 11 panels presenting scenes of Maine workers. LePage took down the mural because of the problems coming from the business officials. People of Maine became enraged because the mural supported the working community. Art should be able to be made and placed freely, especially if supporting a positive action in the community. Don Berry, president of the Maine State A.F.L.-C.I.O., called the move “mean-spirited” and said that “99 percent of our business people won’t have any problem with the mural.” ( NYC Times ). Currently, officials are finding a home for the mural inside the State of Maine museum, even though many still believe it should be allowed to be in the public.
The mural celebrating the worker that LePage had taken down.


Art has evolved in the past hundred years by becoming more abstract, showing more culture, and expressing the artist’s thoughts. New forms of art have evolved throughout different cultural changes and new ideas. Artists gained more recognition and rights to show their art from groups such as the AAAMC. People learned to express themselves more through abstract art. Even though today artists around the world and even in the United States are fighting for more artist rights, many more rights are offered today than before. Artwork is appreciated much more in the public for everyone to view, but there is still controversies as to what can and can’t be shown. Art is very important in everyone’s life, making one smarter and think deeper. Art evolving and artist’s getting more rights is incredibly important because more people can express themselves. Everyone should be allowed to express themselves freely through art and everyone should have the right to learn and gain from others’ art.