Controversial Art and Censorship

Controversial Art and Censorship

Controversial Art and Censorship 150 150 Peter

Controversial Art and Censorship

Although social justice art is not a topic exclusive to the 20th and 21st centuries, the distribution of information regarding controversial art with gender, race, sexual, and/or environmental themes has increased with the proliferation of media. Choose an example of a social justice work of art from the 20th or 21st centuries from any discipline of the humanities (music, literature, sculpture, film, television, etc.). Then, address the following:

Identify the work and the medium.
Based on your example, to what extent does this work of art make a social contribution?
What aesthetic value does the work have? How does it reflect the human condition? How does it relate to your life?
Has this work ever been censored? If so, explain the circumstances.
Are governments ever justified in censoring art? Why or why not?
Examine some of the influences of this work of art. What was the public reaction to this work? Does it effectively portray its message?
Argue whether or not this work should be considered art. Explain why using terms learned in this course.
Include an accompanying statement from the artist(s) and a statement from a critic to support your points.
Writing Requirements (APA format)

Length: 1.5-2 pages (not including title page or references page)
1-inch margins
Double spaced
12-point Times New Roman font
Title page
References page (minimum of 1 scholarly source and 1 primary source)

Sample Paper

Controversial Art and Censorship

Social justice arts involve a wider range of graphical and performing art that target creating critical awareness and building the community encouraging individuals to promote social-based change.  Generally, art has been applied to record history, cultivate imagination, shape the culture and connect personal and social change.  It can’t just mean to create consciousness, but also can be a substance to involve the community members taking ideal action around the social issues.  Social justice arts began to enter into public awareness from the 1960s through to 20th and 21st centuries.  The following is a form of social justice art work completed in the 20th century.


All Hands on Deck:

All hands on deck is an art created using prints meant to fight for racial justice.  It was created by activists Michael Skolnik and Damon Davis back in 2015.  The art was triggered or inspired by death of Michael Brown, who died following violence by the police.  Therefore, the two individuals aimed at campaigning against police brutality, calling affected communities into action, and empowering forefront activists by exploiting art.  The art incorporates the hands of activists protesting and is presented to symbolize the commonly used gesture, “hands up, do not shoot.”Hands up is a common sign of submission; hence it implies no threat to an approaching officer.  The artist made posters which they subsequently pasted on buildings.  Moreover, the phrase and gestures were printed on T-shirts, signs, magazine covers, hashtags, and memes.  This art makes a social contribution through changing individuals’ opinions, instilling morals, and translating skills across space and time.

The gesture of raised hands remains an aesthetic value and symbolizes outrage over the mistreatment of unarmed black youth by the police.  Consequently, the latter oversaw protests from diverse personages, including certain football players who raised their hands as a symbolic gesture while entering the field before the match.  This piece of art is more of a symbol against racial prejudice, which is highly prevalent in the contemporary world.  In my life, the art relates that I am exposed to racial justice if there’s an injustice.

The slogan has not been officially censored.  Nonetheless, governments are justified in censoring art if it surpasses certain boundaries of atrocity, for instance, if it would endanger public safety or violate public standards.  Moreover, the government can censor art if it disposes children, special groups, and other living things to harm.  Art that is objectively obscene and put in public should be censored.  Moreover, the government can censor art to enforce copyright.  This way, when an individual copy and distributes another person’s art, the government can censor the latter by making the infringer stop distribution and pay damages to the copyright owner.  Generally, the government is justified to censor any work of art that goes against human rights (James, 2018).

The influence of this piece of art was massive with, for instance, the members of the black congressional caucus delivering speeches regarding the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers against black youths while particular democrats raised their hands in solidarity with the movement (Martin, & Jacobus. 2018).  The latter also occasioned numerous protests all over the states.  Therefore, it is safe to conclude that the art work effectively portrays its message.  Moreover, the latter should be considered art because it was designed by individuals with a communicative or aesthetic purpose and expressed practical ideas.


James, D. L. (2018).  Navigating the Muddy Waters between Censorship and Literature.  Community College Enterprise24(2), 49-54.

Martin, F, D., & Jacobus, L, A. (2018). The Humanities through the arts, New York: McGraw-Hill Education.

Wright, D. E. (2020).  Imagining a more just world: Critical arts pedagogy and youth participatory action research.  International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education33(1), 32-49.