protest and persuasion

We all choose which traditions to follow and which to challenge.

When people are not satisfied with things the way they are, they sometimes protest or try to persuade others to change their ideas. They work to change things by criticizing or protesting the old ways and replacing them with new ways. Some protests lead to revolutions. There are various kinds of revolutions. In political revolutions the old powers are overthrown and new people take over the government. In social revolutions the relationships between social classes change, or the population experiences the rise of new social classes or the expansion of existing classes. In economic revolutions wealth changes hands. There are also scientific, industrial, agricultural, artistic, and religious revolutions when old ideas are replaced by new ideas.

In many cultures, artists use their artworks to protest or to bring attention to their ideas. Sometimes a painting, sculpture, or building can persuade just as well or better, than words can.

Art can protest, propose, and provoke ideas.

Inquiry Questions

1) What "forms" can you use to protest and/or provoke ideas on the part of the viewer?

2) What visual elements are important for you to use in a work seeking to protest, persuade, or provoke a viewer?

3) What are some compositional strategies you could employ that have been shown to be effective in this kind of work?

4) What historical or cultural references would be helpful to you in researching this kind of work?

5) Will your work have an obvious or not-so-obvious function (for example, propaganda has an obvious function.)

6) Will you use symbols to reinforce a message? If so, list them.

7) Is your work for contemporary viewers or for an historical or imaginary audience?

8) What tools, materials, and processes would be most effective for this project?

9) How is the meaning of the artwork affected by (reinforced/enhanced) by the choice fo medium?

10) What context would be the most effective for the display of your finished work?


1. Relief Print (ref., 2D Studio Fundamentals, UNIT IV: Figure/Ground )

2. Painting (ref., 2D Studio Fundamentals, UNIT IV: Figure/Ground )

3. Propaganda Poster (ref., Color Studio Fundamentals, UNIT V: Color Schemes)


George Grosz, Hans Haacke, David Hammond, Keith Haring, Jenny Holzer, Suzanne Lacy, Maya Lin, Joe Lewis, Pablo Picasso, Jacob Reis, Faith Ringgold, Diego Rivera, Martha Rosler, Kara Walker, Fred Wilson, Propaganda Posters



Gallery of Chicano and Chicana artworks

Lacy, S. (1995). Mapping the terrain: New genre public art. Seattle: Bay Press.

Marcuse, Herbert, (1969). "The New Sensibility," An Essay on Liberation (Boston: 1969), pp. 23 - 48.

Thanks to Professor Mary Erickson who developed the theme of Protest and Persuasion and is author of the discussion section above. Find out more about Dr. Erickson's work with Thematic, Inquiry-Based Art Education at the Chicana and Chicano Space at Arizona State University.

The graphic images associated with the Protest and Persuasion unit were created by Lisza Jaurigue, an art education PhD student at Arizona State University