The "Think Global, Act Local" movement has been used as justification for eating local foods and doing environmental clean-ups in your own neighborhood. The arts are widely used as a tool for fostering small local changes that do ultimately impact broader global relationships. So, can the pithy phrase "Think Global, Act Local" also be used to promote public art?
There are two great perspectives on this issue. Over at A Blade of Grass, Juliana Driever gives a great description of how art can be an "act local" force:
Art work that is in some sense local as I understand it, takes its actual location - its context - as its starting point, is grounded in lived experience, and its tangible, immediate conditions. Social art and self-taught art, might find common ground in this kind of site-specificity, taking localized concerns as a place to pick up and start making something. For both, context can be a medium and a message.
Both kinds of work can also claim responsibility to a specific place, community, or issue (and not just for the standard duration of a biennial exhibition), and create a self-determined criteria of value, which is to say, the significance of the work is held in direct relationship to those who participate in it or with it.
Luis Gallardo pushes past the "Think Global, Act Local" paradigm and encourages us to think about how this concept can actually prepare businesses for sustainable growth through "Think Holistic, Act Personal."
Simply put, global is too broad and undefined. It implies that we should standardize and lead from the center, so that we can better drive efficiencies that meet the burgeoning demands of local markets. This is in stark contrast with thinking holistically, which I define as the ability to take into account complex linkages and inter-connections in order to facilitate decision-making of the highest order.
Similar to thinking globally, acting locally does not touch upon the essence of human behavior—what we do or don’t do in response to change, challenge, and the status quo. Acting personal, however, mirrors human dynamics and the multi-dimensional profile of each individual. Act personal allows you to engineer communities, making messages and actions a relevant and timely response to the big picture needs of people.
Art opens people's eyes to the world around them (and worlds that only exist in our brains) through colors, sounds, smells, touch, and by sparking emotional situations. Art can poignantly pique one's curiosity, and if we view art as a method for sparking people's interest in engaging with the world around them, then perhaps the phrase "Think Global Impact, Act Creative Locally" could be applicable.
What do you think? Is "Think Global, Act Local" an applicable categorization of how the arts can be used to spark social change?
Fill in the blanks of "Think [ ], Act [ ]" and comment below with your pithy phrase for the relationship between the arts and social change!
Written by Catherine J Howard