Social Art is a concept used to describe public art that comments on a social issue with the hopes of generating positive change. Social Art, for short, can be used as a placemaking tool because public art that addresses social issues attract attention from the public and the media as they are usually bold and present taboo topics. The unique look and subject-matter of Social Art projects can revitalize underused public spaces by giving new meaning to the space.
An example of Social Art is the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s exhibit titled “FLOW: Can You See The River?”. The city-wide project featured mirrors and large map pins at locations along the White River to point out important parts of the watershed. The educational panels and Raindrop mobile app provided the public with information about human impacts on the river system. This Social Art project highlighted environmental concerns of the White River watershed to residents of Indianapolis in a tangible and engaging way.
One challenge of Social Art is that communities are often hesitant to approve these projects because they can discuss controversial or taboo topics. However, many Social Art projects present unique topics in a positive and playful way. PBJ Designs #PlayMeHFX Pianos are Social Art because they ask for more fun and playful activities for the Halifax public.Supporting Social Art is important because their public art pieces voice opinions and tensions of the public. Although not a mainstream method to address social issues, the value of Social Art can be seen in the way it attracts the public and creates positive change in communities.