Lifestyle & Culture

Art as an activism tool

(4 min read) Throughout history, art has been used (and abused) by both respective artists and ruling political regimes of the particular time period. During the war, artworks tend to become propaganda weapons, but also activism tools. This especially goes for the film (propaganda movies) and sculptures (monuments, busts). However, mosaic art is up there too, its permanence making it the perfect instrument of political regimes all over the world. Needless to say, that medal has its other side as well, so it has been used by activists too.

Mosaic Mural Art For Activism
The Suffragette Spirit mosaic mural by Carrie Reichardt in Aberdeen.

See, when you think of activism you usually think of it as an action taken to right a wrong that is currently happening. In this age of political correctness and wokeness, we are witnesses to an array of activists with a variety of approaches. Some choose to practice their right to free speech on their considerable social media platforms and outlets, while others take the streets and social events in different ways. Some opt to open public debates on stages in pars and social centers, while others do it quietly and create artworks on those same streets under the veil of the night. Some activism happens spontaneously and acutely, while some are given much thought and planning before it hits the mark.

Mosaic Mural Artwork For Activism
Mosaic artwork from the Disobedient Objects exhibition (2014) by Carrie Reichardt (Source).

One of my personal favorites, the artist that manages to always bring out the appropriate emotion and reaction through his activist art is most definitely Edgar Heap of Birds. His artworks include public art messages, Neuf Series acrylic paintings, large-scale drawings, works in glass, prints, etc. His every artwork is an example of in-your-face activism entwined with his amazing talent and love for art.

Mosaic Mural Art For Activism
“Relocate Destroy, In Memory of Native Americans, In Memory of Jews”, by Edgar Heap of Birds (Source).

Mosaic Art For Activism
“Surviving Active Shooter Custer” monoprints by Edgar Heap of Birds (Source).

Kim Werker’s famous Ugly Doll project, which eventually turned into an awesome book, is also a fine example of art and activism coming together to bring awareness to what can only be described as a global body-mind-soul positivity movement. In this age of the hypocrisy of the modeling industry, (so-called) Reality TV, and (of course) political correctness, Werker decided to make something outstandingly ugly. Reminding the world that both ugliness and beauty are a matter of one’s perception is always a good thing.

Art For Activism
Ugly Dill, by Kim Werker (Source).

Art For Activism
Kim Werker’s Make it Mighty Ugly book.

Sometimes activistic art starts almost unintentionally and that’s what seemingly happened with Nan Goldin’s life portraying photography. She began photographing scenes from her personal life in 1980 and managed to capture and highlight different aspects of the LGBTQ community, as well as bring awareness to the opioid crisis and AIDS epidemic.

Art For Activism
Nan and Brian in Bed (The Ballad of Sexual Dependency), New York City 1983, silver dye bleach print by Nan Goldin (Source).

Print Art For Activism
The Hug, by Nan Goldin (The Ballad of Sexual Dependency), New York 1980 (Source).

L. J. Roberts’ Queer craft project is also an artistic example of bringing awareness to some problems that queer, gender non-conforming, and non-binary groups face. Using handcrafts and knitted artwork to explore the ideas of marginality is a unique approach to the topic, that keeps impressing art enthusiasts and the public from around the world.

Art For Activism
Portrait of Deb (1988–199?), by L. J. Roberts (Source).

Mosaic Mural Artwork For Activism
“VanDykesTransDykesTransVanTransGrandmxDykesTransAmDentalDamDamn”, a largescale fiber collage by L. J Roberts (Source).

Keeping all of that in mind and considering the fact that mosaic art is 3,500 years old, one might come to a conclusion that the two — activism and mosaic- don’t really go together, right? Well… wrong. Pen-minded and strong-willed artists from all parts of the globe have been proving that theory wrong for a while now. Mosaic art might be eternal, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be used to prove momentary points. Just ask Carrie Reichardt.

Mosaic Mural Art For Activism
Carrie Reichardt with her mosaic artwork (Source).

We’ve briefly mentioned her in one of our previous articles, but her magnum opus deserves much more attention. Carrie Reichardt uses murals, graphic design, and screen-printing to serve us her stance on a variety of social, political, and economic topics. One of her most famous artworks is The Tiki Love Truck, created in 2007. This amazing artwork is a mobile mosaic mausoleum dedicated to the memory of Reichardt’s friend, a death-row inmate, Josh Joe ‘Ash’ Amador. After witnessing his execution, Carrie and Nick Reynolds took Amador’s body to a cabin in the woods where Reynolds cast his death mask. Ten days after that The Tiki Love truck was first shown on the streets of Manchester with Ash’s death mask on top. The mosaic masterpiece was awarded The Makeover prize, for the most impressive or original applied decoration or feature.

Art For Activism
The Tiki Love Truck by Carrie Reichardt (Source).

In 2011, Reichardt took part in the Fine Form Horse Parade celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Cheltenham Parade. Ten life-size resin horses were made for ten respective artists to decorate, and Reichardt and the sculptor Nick Reynolds made their horses’ heads into a skull, while the body was covered in a mosaic depicting the history of horses and the atrocities they have suffered at the hands of men. These are just some of Reichardt’s activist mosaic artworks and I’m sure that more will come in these challenging times we’re in.

Art For Activism
Dada the Trojan Horse by Carrie Reichardt and Nick Reynolds (Source).

Over at Tate Galleries, the activist art is described as a “form of political and social currency, actively addressing cultural power structures rather than representing them or simply describing them”. That is quite true, but don’t forget that it is almost always deeply personal for the artists themselves.

Art Activism, Art Mural
Art as an activism tool

Art Activism, Art Mural
Art as an activism tool




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M. Belosh

M. Belosh

Passionate art enthusiast; avid reader (you can find me on Goodreads under the same name); movie connoisseur; intolerable before my morning coffee.


  1. Lyosha
    April 29, 2022 at 8:37 pm

    it is the most beautiful form if you ask me. I always feel so inspired by how the artist can express their point of view. there should be more artists like that to follow the crowds and make people feel deeper. I think if there were more artists who openly spoke about the current events, the world would have been a better place

  2. Tammy
    April 30, 2022 at 11:18 pm

    I love the story/meaning of the ugly doll. Art has always been a free space to create, explore, and tell stories. It’s the most beautiful form of expression and it’s so important to preserve that. Thank you for showcasing these pieces!

  3. Neil
    May 1, 2022 at 3:02 pm

    Some of these images are so powerful especially The Suffragette Spirit. It conveys the message strongly to the people looking at it and the meaning is so deep

  4. Jupiter Hadley
    May 2, 2022 at 5:26 am

    So many different types of media and art can be used to make statements that can change the world. I went to the Museum of Brands, and looked at their activism through brands section, which was very interesting.

  5. Heather
    May 2, 2022 at 11:24 am

    I am a strong believer that people should use art to express themselves in any way that makes them feel good. This is a great way to display things you are passionate about.

  6. Risa Lopez
    May 2, 2022 at 12:47 pm

    This is very interesting. I like the ugly doll project. Using arts as an activism tool is very common nowadays. Through this, some people can express how they feel.

  7. Natasha Mairs
    May 2, 2022 at 12:52 pm

    I really love the first mosic picture. Love the flower detail added on the dress

  8. Lyosha
    May 2, 2022 at 12:52 pm

    Very impressive and beautiful! Modern art is my favorite because it talks to my brain and soul first, not with the eyes. I like it when artist is making a statement, not just sharing the world

  9. Ayoima
    May 2, 2022 at 1:35 pm

    I love art activations like this, truly a cool perspective to make people think about a certain topic!

  10. Danielle Ridgway
    May 2, 2022 at 2:00 pm

    I love activism artwork. So important.

  11. Paolo
    May 2, 2022 at 4:21 pm

    I love art in every way. Thanks to art you are able to express yourself and there is nothing better I think. What’s your favorite? – Paolo

  12. Marysa
    May 2, 2022 at 6:38 pm

    Art is such a great form of expression and has always been a big part of activism. It is nice to see these pieces.

  13. Rosey
    May 2, 2022 at 9:38 pm

    yes, I can see how the two (art and activism) could go hand in hand. Art is a good platform with which to be heard.

  14. Rhian Westbury
    May 3, 2022 at 8:12 am

    When I went to Belfast I realised how much art was used for activism. Some of these pieces are really striking x

  15. Riv
    May 3, 2022 at 10:26 am

    I’ve never heard of art activism before and it’s got my attention. The art can really speak louder than our words.

  16. Carleen
    May 3, 2022 at 10:51 am

    I really like when art is used to make a meaningful statement. There is some amazing street art in my area (Chicago) based on various causes. Some of the murals are amazing.

  17. Melissa Cushing
    May 3, 2022 at 1:17 pm

    These are all really cool designs and love this post! Love that they are using art for activism!

  18. Risa Lopez
    May 3, 2022 at 2:09 pm

    Many of us use art to show political expression. Not only that you can show your talent but also to show them how you feel.

  19. dorry lyn
    May 3, 2022 at 4:06 pm

    that ugly dilly is my fave from all. maybe because I love dolls that’s why it touches me more

  20. Stephanie
    May 3, 2022 at 5:19 pm

    It’s great how much these artists were able to express their feelings and also make a point with their artwork.

  21. Joyce K.
    May 3, 2022 at 6:28 pm

    The beautiful thing about art is that it can be used in such various ways to convey feelings and meanings. Something like a drawing can hold so much meaning.

  22. Danielle Ridgway
    May 3, 2022 at 7:36 pm

    Love the Trojan horse piece. All of them are powerful!

  23. Kat
    May 3, 2022 at 9:13 pm

    These pieces represents artistic approach and a positive alternative that evokes empathy and can be a very effective educational tool.

  24. Celine D.
    May 3, 2022 at 9:53 pm

    I totally align with the title of this post that art is a form of activism in many, many cases. Expressing your point on life and the happenings in it is a powerful way to move forward and create progress.

  25. Indu
    May 4, 2022 at 12:19 am

    Immensely like your all posts of mosaic artworks. Each one has fabulous theme based mosaic spectacle.

  26. Phoebe
    May 4, 2022 at 2:33 am

    The ugly doll story is fascinating, I hadn’t heard of it before. It really makes you think

  27. Clarice
    May 4, 2022 at 5:46 am

    These are beautiful. I believe this is an effective way to express ourselves and a non-violent and threatening way to share our beliefs, views and the things we are fighting for.

  28. Crystal Carder
    May 4, 2022 at 7:01 am

    I love how art can have so many different stories and allows for people to express what they are feeling.

  29. Melanie williams
    May 4, 2022 at 8:41 am

    I love how art can have this kind of powerful impact and really create n important message especially when it comes to the The Suffragette movement x

  30. aisa sami
    May 4, 2022 at 9:02 am

    I have been to an exhibit, I think it was a long time ago, where it talked about art being a tool for activism. Very powerful stuff is being created!

  31. Samantha Donnelly
    May 4, 2022 at 9:32 am

    Art is such a powerful way to express your feelings and beliefs , there are some great arts and styles you have shown here

  32. Rhian Westbury
    May 4, 2022 at 12:47 pm

    It’s amazing how many forms of art such as music, paintings, and mosaics can be politically influenced. Sometimes it can be the right way to display your views x

  33. Risa Lopez
    May 4, 2022 at 1:15 pm

    Some people are being quiet and this artwork helps them to express their feelings.

  34. Janine
    May 4, 2022 at 9:18 pm

    A powerful way to express events and the world colliding in one person.

  35. Monidipa
    May 5, 2022 at 2:49 am

    Art can be used in any way which makes one happy. I liked this version better.

  36. Natalie
    May 5, 2022 at 9:53 am

    I love spotting activism art around my city. One of my favourite vegan restaurants has a big mural outside their restaurant advocating for veganism, it’s very neat to see.

  37. Melissa Cushing
    May 5, 2022 at 10:36 am

    These designs are amazing and I appreciate that they use art to express themselves…. and they do it beautifully!

  38. Jennifer Passmore
    May 5, 2022 at 10:38 am

    Art is one of the most profound forms of activism in my eyes. Not only is it something permanent, but when you create art for activism purposes, you are saving that moment in time.

  39. rachel
    May 5, 2022 at 12:57 pm

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE when artists use their platform and creativity towards activism.

  40. Risa Lopez
    May 5, 2022 at 1:07 pm

    We can use the art for expressing how we feel or something that we cannot say out loud.

  41. Angela Ricardo Bethea
    May 6, 2022 at 8:47 am

    This is what I love about art, it can be used in any way or form as an expression of someone. Those are some great selections of artworks as well.

  42. Emily
    May 6, 2022 at 2:04 pm

    I often forget how art is used in activism, but it totally makes sense because art is a way that one expresses themselves.

  43. Lily Lily
    May 6, 2022 at 7:59 pm

    I’m loving all of the creative energy on this post! I love the Tiki Love Truck!

  44. deepu
    May 7, 2022 at 6:34 am

    beautifully covered in pictures too

  45. Sarah Stockley
    May 9, 2022 at 5:38 am

    I absolutely love looking at art like this. I find it all so powerful, visiting places where art is on show is one of my favourite things to do

  46. Risa Lopez
    May 9, 2022 at 1:15 pm

    This murals are very creative and I love how the way these people express how they feel.

  47. Ramil Hinolan
    May 12, 2022 at 2:11 am

    Activism can take many forms. These medium allow us to express our emotions and disagreements. I particularly like the one on “Power to the People.” I believe that the people make our government. If the people will not support those in power, the government will collapse and it will find a stronger more energetic leader.

  48. Laura Street
    May 12, 2022 at 5:14 am

    Art and Activism go hand in hand, such a powerful and creative way to get a message across

    Laura x

  49. Luna S
    May 12, 2022 at 1:22 pm

    There is a lot of power in putting a message into art, some of these are really beautiful.

  50. Ella English
    May 21, 2022 at 2:40 pm

    Wow these are such powerful examples of protest art. I love the colorful tapestry of the van.

  51. Risa Lopez
    May 23, 2022 at 2:04 pm

    All of them are beautiful works of art. I love all of them.