By: Aparna Hariprasad

September 05, 2019

In my time living in Seattle, I stumbled into the world of arts for social change: I started working with Path with Art, a local nonprofit which provides arts classes for adults who have experienced homelessness and other traumas. On a daily basis, I was able to see how transformational the ability to freely think, connect, and express can be. Art proves to be a tool to better understand ourselves, connect with each other, and build community. This blossoming movement that incorporates arts and social justice is helping to shift preconceived notions of art from a highbrow, “luxury” activity to a strategic instrument for change. For example, the UK-based organization With One Voice has compiled a global list and map of projects in the arts and homelessness field — a testament to the people who are pushing that work forward.

And this isn’t just a passing fad. This movement is growing because it works; I have seen firsthand how encouraging expression at an individual level allows us to grow and thrive in our communities as a whole. The benefits of the arts and creativity can be felt by everyone, but it is especially crucial that we provide those opportunities for marginalized populations — opportunities to engage, create, and be heard. When we look at art as a tool to promote self-efficacy and empathy, it shifts from an indulgence to a form of sustenance for the human spirit.  This act of creating and engaging with oneself through the arts can be the liberating spark needed to help people establish stability in their lives.

Finding more ways to bring the arts into these once-unlikely roles can only help us come together and grow. What do you think? Where else have you seen the arts and creativity used in interesting and unexpected ways? Let me know!



Photo: Path with Art participants perform in frequent public showcases to celebrate their work.

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